A view from Israel's coastline. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
Israeli coast line

Tourism in Israel is booming, as people are increasingly attracted to the remarkable historical sites, beauty, food and culture – despite the spate of Palestinian terror attacks.

Israel has been experiencing an ongoing wave Palestinian terrorism for over a year, and the Middle East in general has been experiencing strife and turmoil. Yet despite the drop in tourism in many countries in the region, Israel registered a four percent increase in tourism in 2016, including almost three million tourist entries.

The Tourism Ministry was not surprised by these statistics and attributes the increase to a strategic shift in branding and an increase in the marketing budget.

The marketing program, adopted by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and implemented under the direction of Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi, has focused on creating demand by building sub-brands suited to different target markets. This initiative is supported by wide-ranging campaigns and the targeting of new markets such as India and China, which have each registered a significant increase in tourism to Israel.

The Tourism Ministry also promoted collaboration with the largest international online travel agents, such as Expedia and TripAdvisor. It also exposed international airlines to the economic potential of opening routes to Israel and, among other strategies, offering incentives to every passenger flying into Ovda in Israel’s south.

“The increase does not come from thin air. The increase in tourist entries to Israel is the result of significant budgets that were allocated for marketing and attractive campaigns, investment in new markets and the development of relevant sub-brands for different target markets,” Levin stated. “The strategic plans are adapted to fluctuations and changes in the tourism industry worldwide. I will continue to advance the activities of the ministry with strategic international partners so that the tourism market in Israel will continue to develop and flourish.”

Opening New Tourism Markets

With a budget of nearly half a billion shekels – the highest ever for tourism marketing – the focus was placed on campaigns in key markets with the highest records of incoming tourism and the largest potential for  growth, such as the US, Russia, Germany, France and England.

In addition to the marketing campaigns, Hainan Airlines, the largest private airline in China, opened a new route into Israel, significantly increasing tourism to the country. The expenditure of Chinese tourists in Israel is the largest of all countries, injecting revenue into the local economy.

Similarly, for the first time this year, Israel ran a tourism campaign in India, gaining millions of views. According to Google, the exposure to the campaign promoting tourism to Israel came close to the exposure of the campaign for the Pepsi drinks brand.

The period of September through December 2016 saw a record number of tourists. The countries registering the most significant increase in comparison with the previous year were: China, with a 69 percent increase; Croatia, 62 percent; Belarus, Latvia and Georgia, 41 percent; Malaysia, 35 percent; and the Philippines, with 27 percent.

The US and Russia continue to lead in the number of tourists to Israel, followed by France, UK, Germany and Ukraine.

By: United with Israel Staff