Kochi: Around one lakh tourists are expected to travel to Israel from India next year, says Hassan Madah, director of Israel Tourism Offices in India and Philippines. The number of travellers to Israel from India has witnessed a steady increase over the past four years, he adds.
As many as 48,800 Indians have visited Israel till September this year, an estimated 20 per cent of whom were from Kerala. Israel has chalked out plans to attract tourists to the country apart from pilgrims, who constitute most of the travellers now. Israel also offers opportunities for cinema shooting and similar purposes.
Madah said that procedures are underway to start direct flights between Kochi and Israel. Arkia, the Israeli airline, will be conducting the services and three trips a week are planned during the initial stage. The flight connection will also help attract tourists from Israel to Kerala.
According to Madah, travelling to Israel is absolutely safe. Moreover, visa formalities and fees have been reduced. While the visa fee was Rs 1,700 earlier, it is Rs 1,100 now.
Earlier, the Israeli Tourism Department had conducted a road show with the aim of strengthening the commercial ties between that country and India. An Israeli team, headed by Madah and Judah Samuel, director of marketing of Israel Ministry of Tourism, had held discussions with over 80 major package travel-tour operators; event management and tourism firms; travel agencies; and media organisations.
The road show began with an exhibition conducted by Israel tourism department and was followed by business discussions, educational programmes and workshops. Queries raised by the participants were cleared at the meetings.
The Israeli delegation included several representatives of the tourism industry.