Israel Ministry of Tourism conducts a roadshow in Kolkata

Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) conducted a roadshow in Kolkata on August 29 to enhance commercial ties with the Indian travel trade fraternity. The 20 member delegation, comprising of destination management companies (DMCs) from Israel interacted with over 100 key travel and tour operators, MICE providers, up-market leisure operators and media personnel. The event started off with a presentation leading to an interactive workshop with the IMOT team and trade partners. The roadshow included B2B sessions, education programmes and workshops to aid trade members in planning itineraries and responding to customer queries.

Commenting on the roadshow, Hassan Madah, Director, Israel Ministry of Tourism – India & Philippines said, “Tourism is on the rise in Israel and inbound arrivals from India has appreciably increased in the last few years. With a half-yearly record growth of 82% as compared to the same period in 2015, more than 44,000 Indian tourists have already visited the country from January to July 2018. Travellers from West Bengal are experiential and prefer exotic destinations that are unique in their offerings. Hence, the idea was to introduce the varied leisure offerings of the country through the roadshow. Moreover, with the opening of the Kolkata Israel Visa Application Centre for West Bengal and North-eastern states, we are confident that this will be seen as a welcoming move to increase interest among travellers from these regions of India.”

The new centre in Kolkata will no longer require residents from West Bengal and North-eastern states to send in their documents to the Embassy in New Delhi. Additionally, visa applications in the jurisdiction under the New Delhi Centre are also acceptable at the new Kolkata Centre. Visa categories include B1 for employment, B2 for business, tourism, meeting or conference and A2 for students.

In March this year, Air India launched its historic direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, the fastest non-stop flight connecting India with Israel. This introduction has amplified the interest of Indian travellers to visit Israel and will help meet the growing demand in the coming years. In addition to Air India, Israeli airline El Al currently has three weekly non-stop flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv. Israeli carrier Arkia has also expressed interest to begin operations connecting Israel and India.

Madah also added, “We have positively introduced various initiatives to ease the visa procedure for Indians. Along with relaxation of documents for persons who have availed visas of Schengen countries, U.S., Canada, Australia or Israel and have completed their travel to these countries Fast Track visa processing for Israel was also incorporated earlier this year. Additionally, reduction in visa fee to INR 1,100 will encourage more people to choose Israel as a holiday destination boosting inbound numbers from India.”

Israel has quickly become Middle East’s newest business tourism destination, gaining popularity with the Indian corporate segment. A number of world-class hotels, state-of-the-art convention centres, amazing beaches, thriving nightlife, international cuisine and modern infrastructure including free Wi-Fi across cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are features that lure the business travellers to the startup nation. The Dead Sea and Eilat are great MICE add-ons especially with a new international airport coming up in Eilat early next year. Israel is a compact country and most locations are accessible within a few hours of driving.