Yariv Levin

Minister Yariv Levin. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Israel’s tourism industry will receive a boost from Chinese tourists who may now enjoy a new direct flight from Beijing to Tel Aviv. 

China’s largest private airline, Hainan Airlines, announced at the end of last week the opening of a direct nonstop service from Tel Aviv to Beijing starting in April 2016, a move Israel’s Tourism Ministry believes will greatly benefit the local tourism industry.

Flight sales for the new line are slated to begin within the coming days in China, when the Jewish Holy Days are over.

The airline will operate a two-class Airbus 330 three days a week, with 36 business class seats and 178 economy seats. The flight time is 11 hours westbound and 9 hours and 30 minutes eastbound.

According to the announcement from Hainan Airlines, the new flight complements the carrier’s existing domestic nonstop connections to Beijing and other major cities in China, such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Passengers could transfer easily to many other cities with low fares after arriving in Beijing, according to the company.

“After several years of activities related to developing the incoming tourism market from China that included bilateral meetings and delegations from the Tourism Ministry in Israel and China with the assistance of Israel Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, and the presentation of the economic benefits inherent in the route, the Tourism Ministry welcomes the opening of the route by Hainan Airlines,” the Israeli Tourism Ministry said in statement Monday.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin thanked the directors of Hainan airlines for their decision to open a direct route to Israel. “Opening this route, which is a vote of confidence in the tourism potential, will facilitate a significant expansion in the numbers of tourists traveling into Israel from China,” he said.

Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel

A popular tourist spot: the Bahai Gardens in Haifa, Israel. (Shutterstock)

Until now, only the Israeli El Al Airlines operated a direct route between Tel Aviv and Beijing.

The number of outbound tourists from China increases from year to year, and in 2012, China became the world’s largest outbound tourism market. The Tourism Ministry believes that an increase in seat capacity between Israel and China will lead to a significant increase in the number of tourists from China, which stands today at about 40,000 a year.

Israel’s Tourism Ministry has been investing significantly in preparing the relevant tourism infrastructure for Chinese tourists who have specific requirements, including the training of Chinese-speaking tour guides, the shortening by two-thirds the length of time it takes to issue a visa for Israel for Chinese tourists, and a course given by Chinese chefs to teach Chinese cuisine to their Israeli counterparts in order to ensure that the Chinese tourists enjoy the cuisine with which they are familiar.

By: Max Gelber, United with Israel

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