The Chinese government announced Thursday that Israel has been added to the list of countries that are approved for group travel from China, Since the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese tourists who wanted to visit the Holy Land had to do so in an individual framework.
In March, the country that advocated a "zero infection" policy opened its doors to tourists from around the world – and at the same time allowed its citizens to go on organized trips to 60 countries. Israel was not included in this list, until now.
According to survey data from the Tourism Ministry, Chinese tourists spend the most money per day during a vacation in Israel - $236 per day per tourist, compared to the average of $180. In fact, the tourism potential from China is enormous, and it has significantly intensified in the last decade – in 2019, about 155 million Chinese tourists traveled throughout the world, three times the number of Chinese tourists in 2010.
Tourism Minister Haim Katz welcomed the decision and said that "the Chinese announcement will dramatically increase the volume of incoming tourism from China. The Asian market has enormous potential, we will continue to work to bring it to fruition."
Last month, Ynet reported that Israel renewed its efforts to attract tourists from China, and the Tourism Ministry even signed a cooperation agreement with Weibo - the Chinese equivalent of Facebook - and launched a campaign that reached 150 million exposures within a week and became one of the 10 hot topics on the platform.
Before the pandemic, the Tourism Ministry focused a great deal of effort on the Chinese market, investing tens of millions of shekels a year. And 2019 was a record year with more than 150,000 Chinese tourists entering Israel; with over 60% of them entering with tour groups. However, following the outbreak of the epidemic, the movement of tourists from China stopped completely.
In recent months, Katz has been working with the Chinese Ambassador to Israel Cai Run with the aim of deepening ties in the field of tourism between the countries. Indeed, the ambassador recently announced that China will take part in the 2024 International Tourism Fair held in Israel (IMTM). Also, on September 15, China's Hainan Airlines will open a direct flight to Israel from Sheng, in southern China, with a frequency of twice a week. This line is in addition to two existing lines from other big cities in China - Beijing and Shanghai.
The office anticipates an increase in demand and the frequency of flights, also thanks to the continuation of Israeli marketing operations that include, among other things, a digital campaign in Chinese, hosting Chinese opinion leaders in Israel and more. In addition, the timing of the new flights to Israel come before the Chinese national holiday (China's Independence Day) which will be held on October 1.
At the beginning of September, the Tourism Ministry will hold a marathon of marketing events in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen in which representatives of Israel's tourism industry will participate: organizers of inbound tourism, travel agents, and hoteliers. Also in September, the ministry will set up a national pavilion at the ITB China fair in Shanghai.