With Israel seeing a 112% rise in tourism from China, governmental ministries & tourists organizations adapt to accommodate the significant influx.
By Danny Sadeh, Itamar Eichner
There was a 112 percent increase in the number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel last month, while the overall number of visitors from China since the beginning of the year rose 53 percent compared to last year.
According to the Tourism Ministry, some 6,400 Chinese tourists arrived in Israel in July 2016, compared to some 3,000 in July 2015. Since the beginning of the year, 38,832 Chinese visited the Holy Land, compared to some 25,000 between January and July 2015.
One of the reasons for the rise in tourists from China is the fact that Hainan Airlines starting offering flights to Israel. According to a report by the Israel Airports Authority, in July 2016 the company flew 5,575 passengers on its Tel Aviv-Beijing line, 660 more passengers than El Al, which was the only airline flying to China up until three months ago.
In light of the increase in the number of Chinese tourists coming to Israel, the Tourism and Interior Ministries decided to approve a request made by the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association to cancel the fee for tour groups.
The association complained about the fact that the 35-shekels-per-person fee, in addition to handling fees tour operators often need to pay to their representatives in Israel, serves as a significant bureaucratic and financial hurdle to organizing tour groups visiting the country.
The association said canceling the tour group fees would lead to an increase in tourists as it would help lower travel costs. According to the Tourism Ministry, a Chinese tourist pays $1,947 on average to visit Israel, a sum 21 percent higher than the average expense made by tourists from other countries.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that cancelling the tour group fees for Chinese tourists and granting them 10-year travel visas are two important steps among others made by his ministry to market Israel to the Chinese.
Learning about the Palmach in Chinese
Meanwhile, the Palmach Museum in Tel Aviv decided to make itself more accessible to the tourists from China, becoming the first Defense Ministry museum—and one of the first museums in Israel—to translate its spectacular audiovisual presentation into Chinese and Mandarin.
The Palmach Museum, ranked by Trip Advisor as the best museum in Tel Aviv, inaugurated its Chinese feature this week as part of the Israeli government’s effort to increase the number of tourists from China by providing them an experience in their own language.
The new presentation was met with much enthusiasm by a group of Chinese teenagers, who were the first to view it.
The idea arose when the museum started welcoming more and more visitors from Asian countries thanks to the good reviews it received.
Their English, however, was not very good, leading the chairman of the Palmach Generation Association, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yeshayahu Gavish and the Defense Ministry’s Museums Department to cooperating in making the museum and its archive materials accessible to Chinese speakers.
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