Tourism to Israel up 3.6% in 2016

Tourism Ministry campaign

Incoming tourism set an all-time record in September-December 2016.

Incoming tourism in 2016 totaled 2.9 million tourists, up 3.6%, compared with 2015. Tourism hit an all-time high in September-December 2016, with 250,000 tourists arriving in Israel in December alone.

Tourism, however, is the first industry to be affected by the security situation, and yesterday's murderous attack in Jerusalem is therefore liable to have a negative impact on tourism. On the other hand, in contrast to the past, the Ministry of Tourism is now redoubling its overseas marketing efforts at times like these.

Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, "The increase in tourist arrivals in Israel is a result of the substantial budget allocations for marketing efforts, including attractive campaigns, investment in new markets, and the development of relevant sub-brands for different target markets." He noted that the increase in the volume of tourism took place concurrently with the security situation in the Middle East, with many countries in the region experiencing a drop in tourism. "The Ministry of Tourism is not surprised, and attributes the increase to a change in marketing strategies and a higher marketing budget."

The Ministry of Tourism's budget reached NIS 500 million this year. Most of its marketing was aimed at specific targets with potential, with an emphasis on new markets, such as India and China (the beginning of direct flights to Beijing by Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines was stressed). In addition to pilgrimage tourism, Israel was also marketed as a destination for city break leisure and entertainment vacations, a winter campaign for Eilat (including grants to airlines conducting direct flights to Ovda), and cooperation with influential websites, such as Expedia and TripAdvisor.

Ministry of Tourism figures show that the trend towards tourists coming to Israeli in groups has been reversed, with a 60% majority of tourists traveling independently to Israel and purchasing services from an online travel agency. "The Ministry of Tourism has adapted itself to this trend by investing NIS 18.5 million in the context of cooperation with major companies in the segment, such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Odigeo Edreams. These websites are paid according to results, not as a result of advertising," Levin said.

Levin added, "The increase of tourism did not happen by itself… The strategic plan is adapted to fluctuations and changes in global tourism. I will continue to promote the Ministry of Tourism's activity with international strategic partners, so that the tourism market in Israel continues to development and prosper."

The countries from which tourism to Israel grew the most substantially in 2016, compared with 2015, were China (69%), Croatia (62%), Belarus, Latvia, and Georgia (41%), Malaysia (35%), Philippines (27%), and India (13%). The US and Russia continue to lead in the number of tourists arriving in Israel, followed by France, the UK, Germany, and Ukraine.

The winter campaign of direct flights to Eilat from nine European countries is in progress. Every airline flying directly to Eilat receives a €45 subsidy per passenger. The cost of the project is NIS 18 million.

42,000 tourists flew directly to Eilat in the winter of 2015, and Levin expects to double the number this year through a NIS 10 million YouTube campaign, among other things.

In addition to the NIS 35 million spent on the campaign to bring tourists from India and China, campaigns are also being conducted for the first time in many years in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, and Spain. A new NIS 80 million comprehensive campaign is currently promoting a city break vacation in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem simultaneously in eight countries. US tourists are also being exposed to campaigns through large-scale activity among religious communities, at a cost of NIS 50 million.

The Ministry of Tourism hosted over 2,000 opinion leaders, celebrities, and tourist agents in Israel. The sharing of their experience is making a significant contribution to a positive public opinion on Israel. Visitors in this program included Rosanne Barr, Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor, stars of the Green House series for teenagers, Eurovision 2016 participants, and others.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on January 9, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

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Tourism Ministry campaign
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