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The Tourism Ministry expects more than 200,000 visitors from Britain in 2008, up 15 percent from 2007, Tourism Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach said Monday at the opening of the Israel stand at the World Travel Market exhibition in London.
More than 46,000 visitors are expected o attend the world's second largest travel-trade exhibition.
Zemach said he was "delighted to be here, and hoped to increase the traffic of tourists the UK to Israel."
Questioned at a press conference about the anticipated impact of low-cost carriers entering the market, in light of the recently launched flights by Thomsonfly between the UK and Tel Aviv, Zemach said the addition of cheaper carriers provides "more supply and also more choice, [but] the most important goal is to establish a greater demand. If there is a greater demand for flights, we will help the private sector fulfill that demand."
Asked how the hotel industry was responding to match the low price air fares, Zemach said the tourism industry could not regulate the hotel sector, but the Tourism Ministry intended to expand the variety of hotel availability by providing more two- and three-star hotels in the coming years.
"Once we increase supply, this will affect the prices," he said.
Zemach said the Tourism Ministry was trying to help visitors get around the country. He said a joint plan between the Tourism and Transportation ministries would improve maps, routes and introduce more street signs in English.
Zemach painted an optimistic picture for the future of the tourism industry in Israel. With more of the British market wanting to take a different type of vacation than just the typical European destinations, Israel was fast becoming a realistic option for British tourists, he said.
The World Travel Market is staged annually in London. It is a must-attend, business-to-business exhibition. The four-day event provides a unique opportunity for the global travel industry to meet, network, negotiate, conduct business and stay abreast with latest developments.
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