Chinese tourists / Getty
/By Benjamin Peng /
Israel has become an increasingly attractive travel destination for the Chinese tourists along with the bilateral economic ties drawing closer and closer over the past years.
According to Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel, the number of Chinese visitors to Israel increased by 27% during the first five months of 2013 in comparison to figures of last year, more than 20, 000 Chinese people visited Israel, I predict this year’s number of Chinese tourists to Israel will total 30, 000 including dozens of my friends who visited Israel earlier this year.
China is becoming the most important source country for tourism, China’s outbound tourism market continues to grow dramatically, with 30% growth to reach as many as 80 million reported in 2012.
Let’s take a look at the figures of South Africa and Thailand, the number of Chinese tourists to South Africa was over 100, 000 in 2012, and there were over 2.8 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand last year, this year’s figure is estimated to grow up to as many as 4 million by virtue of the popular Chinese movie Lost in Thailand shot there last year. Obliviously there is a huge potential for Israel tourism industry to increase its Chinese customers.
Israel and China are both rich in long history and brilliant heritage, Chinese tourists are curious about Jewish culture and religion and the Jerusalem city. As the cradle of Jewish Christian and Islamic religion, Jerusalem is desirable place to many Chinese people, but for most of them, the Middle East area is turbulent and perilous, if Israel can provide a safe and splendid experience to let them glance at the mysterious land, they will be very interested to go.
Israel Tourism Department has been making more efforts to its marketing activities to attract Chinese tourists recently, Israeli visa procedure for Chinese individual visitors was simplified and optimized last month, residents from top cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou can apply for Israeli visa without the need of assistance from a local tour agency. On the other hand, the Israel Government Tourist Office in China opened a week-long “Road Show” with seminars in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou last week, and the event aimed to introduce Israeli tourism to the travel agents.
But this is not enough to spur the Israel tourism boom in China, Israeli tourism department and industry player should develop characteristic thematic tours for Chinese visitors.
Israel has lots of unrivaled features to make Israeli trip special and distinctive, Israel is Christianity birthland where the Bible was written, it is also a typical Mediterranean scenic land, and it is so-called “Start-up Nation”. With these unparallel features, Israel can design wonderful theme tours for Chinese tourists.
As an Israel researcher and international tourism consultant, here I offer some suggestions for Israeli industrial players.
Christian Theme Tour, China has over 80 million Christians and biblical enthusiast, they are yearn for travel to Israeli land to experience the holy city and its traditional culture and religion.
Military Theme Tour. There are many Chinese military fans interested into IDF and the former battlefield of Middle East War, if the tour can lead them to the IDF military camp, that would be very fascinating.
Start-ups Theme Tour. More and more Chinese young people are doing their start-ups, they are more than intrigued into Israel high-tech start-ups, start-up theme tour with inspirations could be very attractive for them.
Film Theme Tour. Israel has some inimitable places for film shooting, the film theme tour can bring visitors to see the movie shooting locations, the movies like latest Chinese movie Old Cinderella and Israeli movie Free Zone. The Chinese movie Lost in Thailand raised a wave of Thailand tourism boom.
As an essential engine for economic growth that creates new jobs in the periphery, tourism can bring direct and indirect revenue and investment to the country, Israel enjoys good advantages of its unique peculiarities, with thematic tours, to attract tourists from the largest tourist source country.