India resplaced Korea as the top source market for Israel from Asia last year with 41,000 tourist arrivals. The Ministry of Tourism, Israel has identified India as a priority market with huge potential and is planning to set up its office in Mumbai within a year. This office will take care of marketing and promotional activities in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kerala. Talking about the Ministry’s plans for the Indian market, Naama Oryan-Kaplan, Marketing Administration, Ministry of Tourism, Israel said, “This year the Ministry is planning to target FIT, leisure, MICE, Agro, pilgrimage and Bollywood Tourism segments. For the same, places like Jerusalem, Dead Sea, Tel Aviv, Haifa, City of Nazareth and Galilee will be promoted.
Ministry of Tourism, Israel participated for the first time in Travel and Tourism Fair (TTF) & Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) recently in Mumbai to promote the country as a tourist destination. Elaborating on the marketing plans, Kaplan mentioned that the Ministry is expecting to attract 60,000 Indian tourists to Israel this year. For the same, it is looking at participating in trade fairs and organising road shows, food festivals, workshops, FAM trips etc. for the Indian travel trade. It also plans to tie-up with big travel trade players in India for promotional activities. It has earmarked over USD one million for the same. The Ministry is also going to launch a promotional campaign shortly in the Indian market.
Talking about air connectivity from India to Israel, Yair Berrebi, General Manager- Asia and Oceania, El Al Israel Airlines Ltd said, “Currently the airline has four flights a week from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and we are looking at launching direct flights from Delhi to Tel Aviv soon. The proposed flight will operate twice a week initially using B767 aircraft. Currently, the airline enjoys around 80 per cent passenger load from India. About 40,000 Indians fly to Israel and we are expecting this number to increase to 60,000-80,000. The airline is also looking at entering into code share agreements with Indian carriers like Jet Airways, Kingfisher Airlines and Air India.”
For the first time, the biggest Israeli tour operator International Travel & Congresses has forayed into the Indian market and has entered into tie-ups with some of the major tour operators in India. The company is hoping to expand further in order to promote tourism to Israel from India. International Travel & Congresses has a wide range of offerings for Indian travellers primarily the MICE, leisure and religious tourism segments. The chief destinations for MICE groups within Israel are Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Dead Sea and Red Sea which are well connected with various and frequent transport services. The company caters to incentive groups consisting of ten to a maximum of 3,000 delegates. Apart from this, the company also organises pilgrimage tours to Holy Land, catering to religious travellers.
The provision of direct flights from Mumbai and Delhi to Tel Aviv, and uncomplicated Visa procedures have proved to be an added advantage for an increased flow of tourist traffic from India to Israel. “We have been handling all aspects of inbound tourism within Israel for over 40 years and are excited about entering the Indian market this year. We have studied the requirements of Indian travellers, the major being food and language, and are now ready to showcase our offerings to them,” informed Danny Pavell, Vice President, Marketing and Sales, International Travel & Congresses.
Elaborating on the company’s promotional activities in the Indian market this year, Pavell said, “We got the opportunity to interact with lot of travel trade players during TTF-OTM. We are planning to conduct seminars for travel agents in India during the year and are in the process of designing them and finalising the dates. While quite a few tour operators are selling Israel, greater and in-depth knowledge on the destination will help them sell Israel effectively.”