Aiming at a steady increase in tourist arrivals from India, Israel is eyeing one lakh Indian travellers to visit the country by 2018.
“We have been very focused in tourism promotions in India and easing the visa process. This year, in the first seven months till July, we have already hosted 34,000 Indian tourists. This is expected to go up to 55,000 by the end of this year,” the Israeli ministry of tourism’s India director Hassan Madah reportedly said. Currently, there are three to four direct flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and numerous connecting flights from West Asia. There are talks of introducing direct Air India flights connecting New Delhi with Israel in a few months, he said, adding that if it commences, tourist traffic is likely to surge from India and this year’s number may reach nearly 90,000.
There are a few global airlines that are waiting for the Air India flights to be launched, and then introduce their fleets in this direct route. “When this happens, we will see a surge in tourists arrivals from India. We have also been engaging with the tourism industry in India since last few years and are focused in many promotional activities. Due to this, we have set a target of reaching one lakh tourists from India by the end of 2018,” he said. For tourism promotions in India, the Israel ministry of tourism (IMOT) is spending $5-6 million in India this year, he said, adding that going forward, as the tourist traffic grows, the budget is likely to grow.
Israel, which has positioned itself as an affordable premium destination, is targeting travellers mainly for pilgrimage, leisure and meetings, incentives, conferences, events (MICE), including weddings.
“We are mainly focusing on pilgrimage, leisure and MICE as they are huge segments in India. However, we also have scope for the young adventurer at heart, honeymoon and for medical purposes,” he said. In India, IMOT is targeting people from metro cities—mostly over 25 years of age—who are well travelled. “Initially, we want to focus in the big and metro cities. Gradually, we will expand our promotions to tier II and III cities,” he added. Madah said that initially in Asia, India was the number one source market for Israel. However, China has now taken over the position.
“We believe that after the connectivity improves, India will again become number one source market for us among the Asian countries,” he said. Globally, the US and Europe, including Russia, are the top source markets of Israel.