Israel has become Chinese tourists’ latest favorite destination

Surfers at sunset in Bat Yam, Tel Aviv. Source: Shutterstock

CHINA is dominating tourist markets the world over, and the recent country to welcome Chinese tourists by the droves is Israel.

According to China Daily, China is Israel’s fastest-growing source of tourists in the first seven months of the year with over 64,000 Chinese having visited Israel from January to July this year, up 66 percent from the same period last year.

Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin attributed the rise in numbers to easier access between the two countries; there are now direct flights to Israel’s commercial hub of Tel Aviv from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

On top of that, Israel has stepped up efforts to partner up with Chinese online booking platforms, and the ministry recently signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China’s largest online travel agency Ctrip earlier this month to promote the country’s tourism resources as well as make use of the platform’s database.

To make sure that Chinese tourists feel welcome, Levin said he ministry is pushing out training of tourist guides and is building a Chinese version of its official website.

The neighborhood of old Jaffa in Tel Aviv. Source: eFesenko/Shutterstock

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Overnight tourist numbers in Israel were marked at 2.9 million last year. Many visitors who cross into the border disembark from cruise ships or visit the holy capital of Jerusalem for one day from Egypt or Jordan.

“Most of those day-arrivals are traveling to the holy places, places in the Old City of Jerusalem with limited capacity,” Levin told The Jerusalem Post.

“What happens is that there are huge queues, they visit, go back, board the ship and leave. It’s not like people who are staying in a hotel and eating here. It’s incomparable completely to real tourism.”

He said while Israel was once known exclusively as a pilgrimage site, promotional campaigns have helped to brand Tel Aviv as a lively, carnival-like city.