Israel witnessed 31 per cent growth in footfalls from India in 2017, an all-time high, with around 60,000 Indian tourists visiting the country and is eyeing one lakh by the end of this year. In 2016, about 45,000 Indians visited Israel, according to the statistics released by Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT). “2017 has been outstanding and by far the best year for Israel tourism in India and worldwide. By October, 2017 we already saw 49,000 Indians arrive in Israel, breaking previous records, and we were positive to close the year with 60,000 travelers to Israel from India,” Israel Ministry of Tourism Director -India and Philippines -Hassan Madah said. With over 20 million outbound tourists a year, India has been an important market for Israel and the country has witnessed constant growth in the arrivals from the Indian market over the last four years, he added.
“Introducing initiatives, including easing of the visa process, and with airlines in India and Israel expressing interest to increase connectivity between the countries, I am confident that this growth will help us achieve one lakh Indian arrivals in 2018,” he added. He said, the Ministry of Tourism along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to facilitate some changes for Indian travellers. This includes relaxing some visa requirements for Indians who have completed travel to any Schengen countries, US, Canada, Australia or Israel, and express visa services through VFS.
Israel is actively exploring Bollywood as a means of promoting tourism in India, Madah said. The country had recently witnessed its first ever Bollywood collaboration, the Ministry of Tourism partnered with Dharma Productions, to shoot a song in Tel Aviv and Jaffa for their upcoming, he added.
In 2017, Bollywood filmmakers Imtiaz Ali and Vishesh Bhatt, along with a few others, also visited the country to explore co-production possibilities while Ali Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor and Ayan Mukherjee visited Israel to begin preparations for their upcoming movie. Israel’s national airline El Al recently announced to increase its direct flight frequency between India and Israel. Air India and Arkia have also expressed interest to begin operations soon and introduce direct flights between Israel and India. Currently there are four direct flights weekly connecting Mumbai and Tel Aviv.