21 October 2018 - 13 Heshvan 5779 - י"ג חשון ה' אלפים תשע"ט

With much high-level political dialogue and the recent official visits between India’s prime minister Narendra Modi, who made a historic trip to Israel in July, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who visited India last November, it is no surprise that both countries are eagerly pursuing strong tourism policies.

“We have been very focused on tourism promotions in India and easing the visa process. This year, in the first seven months, we have already hosted 34,000 Indian tourists. This is expected togoupto55,000bytheendof this year,” the Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s India director Hassan Madah said, according to the Indian online news site livemint.

He said that currently there are three to four direct flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv and numerous connecting flights from West Asia. There is talk of introducing direct Air India flights connecting New Delhi with Israel in a few months, he said, adding that if this happens, tourist traffic is likely to surge from India and this year’s number may reach nearly 90,000.

However, as reported in the June 2017 issue of Jewish Times Asia, Air India has suspended plans to launch flights between Tel Aviv and New Delhi after it failed to receive permission to fly over certain Arab and Muslim countries to reduce the flying time. EL AL Israel Airlines still offers the only direct flight.

A few global airlines are waiting for the Air India flights to be launched, and plan to introduce their fleets on this direct route. “When this happens, we will see a surge in tourist arrivals from India. We have also been engaging with the tourism industry in India for the past few years and are focused on many promotional activities. Due to this, we have set a target of reaching one lakh [100,000] tourists from India by the end of 2018,” he said.

Regarding Israel’s tourism promotions in India, Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) is spending US$5-6 million in India this year, he said, adding that going forward, as the tourist traffic grows, the budget is likely to grow.

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