The Changing Face of Tourism in Israel

France remains the most important source market from Europe… and for good reason!

The past few years have seen a rise in the number of visitors from France to Israel, with a number of new forms of tourism developing. We asked Laurent Gahnassia – Director of Marketing & Communication of the National Tourism Office of Israel how tourism is developing in general in his country.

In a country that has a population of 8.5 million, we have a total of around 3.5 million tourists each year, including approximately 300,000 French visitors. France is the number three source market for Israel. The first is the USA, followed by the Russians. In Western Europe, it’s the French who are ahead of the Germans and British.

What are the trending attractions at the moment?

We like to put forward is the fact that Israel is a great destination for everyone! One of our slogans is that the sun shines for everyone in Israel, no matter what your motivation, no matter what your beliefs, no matter whether you love sport, opera or electro music or trekking in the desert or scuba diving or wellness… you will always find it… under the sun of Israel. We have more and more international stars coming to Israel, so we organise a lot of city breaks for artists like Lady Gaga or Justin Timberlake, essentially in Tel Aviv, gastronomic weeks, wine tourism… the list goes on. Tourism in the past was often centred on archaeology and religion, but in the past fifteen years we have found that travel agents are able to sell Israel as a “different” place to visit for people who are used to travelling regularly. It’s true that all travellers should try to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lives. The role

of travel agent is thus to convince people that now is the right time!

What’s the goal of your presence at IFTM Top Resa?

Of course, we want to convince travel agents, but also tour operators; to incite them to include Israel in their programme and their offering. It’s also a place where the local receptive agents and the TOs and TAs present here can meet and exchange ideas, signing medium and long- term agreements. A show like this one has a “human” dimension we don’t always find in other shows, and it allows us to have a lot of valuable one-to-one meetings.

Tel Aviv_Night Life © Dana Friedlander_IMOT

Tel Aviv Night Life, Israel © Dana Friedlander, IMOT