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Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Increase of about 4% in incoming tourism to Israel in 2016 over the previous

All-time record for incoming tourism in last four months of the year
(September – December)

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin: “The increase in tourist entries to Israel is
the result of significant budgets that were allocated for marketing and
attractive campaigns, investment in new markets and the development of
relevant sub-brands for different target markets.”

Jerusalem, January 9, 2017 – Against the security background in the Middle
East and despite the drop in incoming tourism in many countries in the
region, Israel registered a 3.6% increase in incoming tourism for 2016, with
2.9 million tourist entries. The Tourism Ministry is not surprised by these
statistics and attributes the increase to a strategic shift in marketing and
an increase in the marketing budget.

The marketing program adopted by the Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and
implemented under the direction of Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir
Halevi focused on creating demand in Israel tourism by building sub-brands
suited to different target markets, supported by wide-ranging campaigns and
including new markets such as India and China which have each registered
increases of tens of percent in incoming tourism. The Tourism Ministry also
promoted collaborations with the largest international online travel agents
such as Expedia and TripAdvisor. In addition, the ministry worked with
international airlines to expose them to the economic potential of opening
routes to Israel and, among others, by giving incentives for every passenger
flying into Ovda and for opening new routes into Ben Gurion airport.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin: “The increase does not come from thin air. The
increase in tourist entries to Israel is the result of significant budgets
that were allocated for marketing and attractive campaigns, investment in
new markets and the development of relevant sub-brands for different target
markets. The strategic plans are adapted to fluctuations and changes in the
tourism industry worldwide. I will continue to advance the activities of the
ministry with strategic international partners so that the tourism market in
Israel will continue to develop and flourish.”

With a budget of nearly half a billion shekels - the highest ever for
tourism marketing – the focus was placed on campaigns in key markets with
the highest numbers of incoming tourism and the largest potential for
additional growth, such as USA, Russia, Germany, France, England and others.
This, alongside investment in new and significant markets with high
potential for increased tourism, particularly India and China.

In addition to the marketing campaigns, Hainan Airlines, the largest private
airline in China, opened a new route into Israel and one can see an increase
of tens of percent in tourism traffic. The expenditure of the Chinese
tourist in Israel is the largest of all countries, injecting revenue into
the local economy. For the first time this year, a tourism campaign ran in
India, gaining millions of views. According to Google, the exposure to the
campaign promoting tourism to Israel came close to the exposure of the
campaign for the Pepsi drinks brand.

Increase in tourism from countries with new air routes and advertising

The period September through December 2016 saw a record in the number of
incoming tourists. The countries which registered the most significant
increase in the number of tourist entries as opposed to the previous year
were: China (+69%); Croatia (+62%); Belarus, Latvia and Georgia (+41%),
Malaysia (+35%) and the Philippines (+ 27%). The USA and Russia continue to
lead in the numbers of incoming tourists, followed by France, UK, Germany
and Ukraine (see below).

Tourism to Eilat doubles:

- Flights to Eilat from 9 European cities – because of the ministry
directive that offers a 45 Euro subsidy to every passenger flying into Ovda
in the current winter season, with a total budget of NIS 18 million.
- Anticipated doubling of tourist entries arriving on direct flights into
Ovda this winter season, as opposed to 42,000 in the winter season
- NIS 10 million advertising campaigns promoting the new Eilat brand in
UK, Finland, Russia, France and Poland, with a dedicated website in English,
Russian, Finnish and French : www.traveleilat.com
- Because of the ministry’s activities, Eilat was ranked seventh by
TripAdvisor in a list of destinations on the rise.

New Markets

- For the first time, an advertising campaign in India to encourage
tourism to Israel – the video had tens of millions of hits for minimal
promotional cost. The YouTube video has over 11.7 million views
- The marketing budget stood at NIS15m in 2016
- Israel won a prize from the Indian Travel + Leisure Magazine as the
best destination for history and heritage
- According to Google and YouTube, as a result of the campaign, the brand
Israel competes with other leading brands in India such as Pepsi

- Israel won the 2016 Best Destination in Chinese media awards.
- Hainan Airlines, the largest private airline in China, opened its route
from Beijing-Tel Aviv in April 2016
- Hainan recently added another weekly flight and is planning to open a
route from Shanghai
- The marketing budget rose dramatically in 2016 to about NIS 20m.
- The increased tourism traffic from China and India injected tems of
millions of shekel into the Israeli economy in 2016 and this is expected to
significantly increase in the future.

Renewing Existing Markets

Campaigns in Europe
- After many years of hiatus, advertising campaigns ran in Holland,
Scandinavia and Spain.
- Two Cities One Break – a new and comprehensive campaign with a budget
of NIS 80 million that ran simultaneously in 8 European countries, promoting
the city break concept in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The campaign, which
starred Israeli model Shir Elmaliach, ran on TV, billboards and in print,
with a focus on digital media. The concept offers Europeans two destinations
on one ticket, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. From data based on the first round of
the campaign, there were 1.9 million unique visitors and 4.5 million clicks
from 9 countries. More than 24.5 million views were recorded for the
campaign video. Example: https://youtu.be/_dBNXPfdePs

Campaigns in USA
- The NIS 50 million USA campaign targets Evangelical, Catholic and
Jewish audiences in New York, LA, Atlanta and Florida, with a particularly
high budget for online promotion.
- New Hainan Airlines route from Beijing
- New Wizzair route from Warsaw
- New Ryanair route from Bratislava
- New EasyJet route from Amsterdam
- New United Airlines route from San Francisco
- New Ryanair route from Paphos
- Declaration by Cathay Pacific to open new route from Hong Kong in two
more months
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin defined the increase of seat capacity on
flights into Israel as a significant target for the ministry. In 2017,
significant budgets will be allocated to promoting new routes from Europe
into Ovda and Ben Gurion airports.

Collaboration with online travel agents
- TripAdvisor, Expedia, Odigeo
- Payment to agents based on sales results
- Adjusting to the market reversal – 60% of tourists arrive independently
and not in organized groups
There have been marked changes in incoming tourism in recent years, with
most tourists today arriving independently (FITs), about 60%, as opposed to
arriving as part of a group. In addition, they purchase their own land and
air arrangements through online travel agencies. The ministry adapted itself
to this trend, with a NIS 18.5 million investment in collaboration with the
largest companies such as Expedia, TripAdvisor, Edreams and Odigeo. Payment
is based on results and not on advertising.

Promoting sports events as a tourism engine
- Campaigns on Eurosport during the Tour de France
- About 3,000 tourists participated in the Jerusalem Marathon
- Hosting journalists from around the world to cover sporting events
- Hosting journalists who cycle to cover new cycling routes

Hostings in 2016

The Ministry hosted more than 2000 opinion-formers, decision-makers,
celebrities and travel agents, of whom 70% were journalists.
- Among the most well-known: Bollywood producers, Roseanne Barr,
Bollywood star Sunam Kapoor, stars of the youth series The Green House,
American Jazz ensembles for Winter Jam, 2016 Eurovision participants and
- Hosting of production of popular reality shows from Europe and USA
- Hosting cyclists to ride the new cycling routes in the desert
- Hosting chefs and journalists for the Round Tables event
- Hosting the conference for Indian travel agents (TAFI)
- Hosting the Romanian travel agents conference
- Hosting journalists for a variety of events, such as Tel Aviv Pride
Parade, the Opera Festival in Jerusalem and Acre, Midburn Festival, Bird
Festival in Eilat, Israel Trail, Open Houses in Jerusalem, Yoga in the Arava
and more
- Hosting large conferences of travel agents and tour operators from
India, China, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine, Japan and more

Tourism by Source Country

As in previous years, tourism from the USA continued to represent the
largest country of origin for incoming tourism to Israel, with 648,310
tourist entries in 2016, 5% more than 2015 and 8% more than in 2014. In
second place is tourism from Russia with 440,358 visitors, a decrease of 1%
on 2015 and 21% on 2014. Tourism from France takes third place, with 287,450
tourist entries, 2% less than last year and 1% down on 2014, followed by the
United Kingdom with 181,346 (4% up on 2015 and 10% up on 2014) and Germany
with 164,076 tourist entries, 3% more than 2015 and 1% more than 2014.

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