Travel Agent Appreciation
Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Mar 02, 2020
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Special to CTP: Make it Israel in 2020

Consul, Director for Canada
Israel Ministry of Tourism

If you want to understand why Canadian tourism to Israel will continue to grow and break records in 2020, then simply take a walk in the old city of Jaffa with a pita overfull of shakshuka – a mixture of tomatoes and poached eggs – and watch the sunset on the beautiful seashore of Bat Yam to Tel Aviv.

It’s an experience that is not to be missed.

The breeze that wafts along the passageways of Jaffa, reminds wandering visitors of the many layers of history that are under their feet – from the Egyptians in the Bronze Age, Julius Caesar and the Romans, the crusaders, and all the way to the British mandate is ecstatic.

Pieces of each period of history can be found here, for example, an ancient Ottoman–Mamluk building which is now home to a new, chic shawarma restaurant that buzzes
with millennials drinking, eating and having the time of their lives.

That’s what makes Israel unique and is only one example of the breathtaking experience that visitors will find there.

Experience matters – No more rushing to a destination just to make another checkmark on the bucket list. Now, when travel has become much more affordable, people can go back and relax, while they are on vacation. The fear of missing out is not as pressing, and more and more travellers are looking for that authentic experience; that one local experience. Like a siesta in Spain; a tavern in Greece; a highly educated journey in Jerusalem; or sleep through the day and then hang out in Tel Aviv – the never-stop city. “Take it easy, absorb, enjoy” will be the motto of travellers in 2020.

Age variation – Thanks to modern medicine and economics, more seniors can afford to travel. All over the world, we see the trend where 50-plus tourists are flooding in to discover all of the amazing places that they’ve heard so much about, but couldn’t go – whether because of family issues, financial matters, work, etc. They value culture, heritage, history, and they’re looking for meaningful experiences.

And there’s no doubt that Israel can provide these experiences – with its mixture of cultures and rich history, as well as the modern opportunities it offers, such as museums, galleries, opera, theatre, and much more.

Technology – The rapid changes and the quantum leap in technology changed the tourism industry. The planning process of a trip has become more accessible, independent and efficient, and, as a result, it has made travel easier to access and more frequent. Moreover, technology has reshaped touristic products and destinations. It made all the destinations adjust themselves for the “new world” – added value, branding, tailor-made and versatile destinations customized to the tourists.

As for Canada, there is great potential for tourism to Israel. Canadians are experienced and sophisticated travellers who love culture and history and who are constantly looking for the next destination. Traditional destinations like the USA and South America have reached saturation, and Canadians have turned to Europe and Asia. Israel, as a country just in between them, has such a sophisticated tourist product that it should be top of mind for any tourist, but especially for Canadian travellers.

In breaking down the statistics of the Canadian tourist, you’ll discover some common characteristics:

Canadian tourists look for a leisure destination and travel a lot – sixth in the world in travel distance.

More sophisticated tourist – Canadians are looking for more of authentic experiences. To hike and bike, to taste the local food, to explore the communities, etc.

• Many traditional destinations have reached saturation and the search is on for new and more exotic destinations.

Empty nesters – a growing target market in Canada – with high income and a better quality of life, they are in search of these new experiences.

Looking at outbound tourism from Canada to Israel, there are some important issues to consider when identifying this market’s potential.

First, satisfaction rates are high for Canadian travellers visiting Israel, and over 60% plan to come for a second and third visit.

More importantly, almost 50% of the incoming tourists are return tourists, which represent a solid market and reflect the fact that 25% are coming on VFR basis.

Over 50% of Canadians came to Israel after a recommendation of a friend. That fact reflects the satisfaction rate and the understanding that Israel’s best advocates are those tourists.

The fact that Israel offers so many unique experiences, provides travellers with the opportunity to have a trip of a lifetime, instead of just another trip.

2019 was another record year in tourism for Israel as it welcomed over 4.5-million tourists of which 100,000 were Canadians – the highest numbers in history.

In 2020, the travel industry will focus on multi-functional destinations, easy-going as opposed to high-energy travel, and with more and more diversity in the ages of the travellers – particularly seniors who travel further and more often.

With its rich history and culture, alongside its great weather, the beaches and culinary offerings, Israel has positioned itself as the ideal destination for 2020.

Canada is one of the best markets for Israel tourism, and, as such, tourism officials here will be focusing their efforts on highlighting the destination and fulfilling its potential in 2020.

Those efforts will include high volume marketing agreements, conferences, events and working closely with the industry.

Plus, El Al will be increasing its frequency to five-times a week beginning in March; and with its new Dreamliner, Air Canada’s great service from Toronto and Montreal makes it even better.

I am thrilled to conclude 2019 as Israel consul for tourism here in Canada. The warm welcome was more than enough – much more than enough – to compensate for the cold weather that I am not used to coming from Israel as I do.

And, in 2020, make sure that you book your clients to Israel, so they can check it off their bucket list of their must-visit destinations.