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‘The Indian market is an important and growing source of revenue for the Israeli tourism industry’

We will utilise digital marketing and social media to reach millennials in India and promote Israel as a trendy and exciting destination, says Sammy Yahia, Director, Tourism, India & Philippines, Israel Ministry of Tourism, while speaking to Prasenjit Chakraborty.

Q. India & Israel share close ties. How does the Indian market play an important role for Israel tourism?

India and Israel have a strong relationship, marked by close political and economic ties. India is a growing market for Israeli tourism and plays an important role in the growth of the Israeli tourism industry. Several factors contribute to the significance of the Indian market for Israeli tourism. Firstly, India has a large and growing middle class with increasing disposable incomes, making travel abroad more accessible. Additionally, India has a rich cultural heritage and a deep interest in spiritual and religious tourism, making Israel, with its historic religious sites and cultural attractions, a popular destination for Indian travellers. In recent years, the number of Indian tourists visiting Israel has been growing rapidly, driven by a growing awareness of the country’s attractions and the availability of direct flights between the two countries. Overall, the Indian market is an important and growing source of revenue for the Israeli tourism industry, and both countries are working to strengthen their relationship and promote tourism between them.

Q.What is your plan to get more millennial tourists from India?

We will utilise digital marketing and social media to reach millennials in India and promote Israel as a trendy and exciting destination. Platforms such as Instagram and Facebook can be leveraged to showcase the unique experiences and attractions that Israel has to offer to this demographic.

Second is emphasise on adventure and outdoor activities. Millennial travellers are often seeking unique and adventurous experiences, so promoting outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and diving could be a strong selling point for Israel.Besides this, offering affordable and flexible travel packages to millennials will also help a lot. Because, the millennials often have limited budgets and are looking for flexibility in their travel plans. Offering affordable travel packages with options for customisation could make Israel a more attractive destination for this demographic.

Partnering with local influencers and travel bloggers can help to spread the word about Israel and showcase the country in a positive light. These influencers can create content that appeals to millennials and inspire them to visit.

Israel is rich in cultural and historical heritage, and promoting these attractions can be a powerful draw for millennial travellers who are interested in exploring new cultures and learning about history.

Q.Could you tell us about your International Tourism Partnership Programs? Post-Covid what is your plan for the India market?

The international tourism industry has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many countries and organisations have had to reassess their plans for attracting tourists.

Some of Post COVID-19 strategies that could be implemented to support the recovery of international tourism – implementing strict health and safety measures, such as regular COVID-19 testing and following protocols for social distancing, will be critical to restoring confidence in travel. Second is utilising digital technologies, such as contactless check-in, digital payments, and virtual tours, to enhance the tourist experience and minimise physical contact. Besides this, encouraging collaboration between government, the private sector, and the tourism industry to create a supportive environment for the growth and recovery of the tourism industry. As travel patterns change, it will be important to understand the new preferences and requirements of tourists, and adjust products and services accordingly, to remain competitive in the market.

Q. Israel pulled in a staggering amount of tourists in 2022, totalling a whopping 2.67 million. What is your target for 2023? What will be the contribution of India?

2023 will see more than 4.5 million travellers visiting Israel. From India i believe we will be in the same numbers as 2019 around 75000 travellers.

Q.Which traveller segments are your focus areas in India?

Israel offers a variety of adventure activities, such as trekking, rafting, and wildlife safaris, making it an attractive destination for those seeking an adrenaline rush. Apart from this, Israel is home to several luxury spa and wellness resorts, as well as historic palaces and forts that have been converted into luxury hotels, attracting tourists seeking a lavish and rejuvenating experience. Cultural and Heritage Tourism is another segment we are focussing on.

Q.How has tourism evolved in Israel in the last three years?

Israel is home to a number of religious sites that are of significant importance to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and religious tourism has been a major contributor to the growth of the tourism industry in the country. In recent years, the luxury tourism sector in Israel has experienced significant growth, with the development of a number of high-end hotels, resorts, and spas, as well as upscale dining and shopping options. Development of Adventure and Eco-Tourism is another segment which is also witnessing growth.

The Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) sector has also been a growing segment of the tourism industry in Israel, as the country offers a range of modern conference and exhibition facilities and is well-connected to major cities in Europe and Asia. We are also actively promoting sustainable tourism practices, such as responsible waste management, energy efficiency etc.

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