Ministry: Reducing travel costs key to increasing visitors

Tourism Ministry lays out plans to increase the number of tourists entering the country.

Gospel Trail hikers nature 311 (photo credit: Ministry of Tourism)
Gospel Trail hikers nature 311
(photo credit: Ministry of Tourism)
A reduction in the cost of visiting Israel is central to Tourism Ministry plans to increase the number of tourists entering the country, the ministry said on Tuesday.
During the annual Tourism Conference in Jerusalem, Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beiteinu) spoke about the ministry’s three-year plan to increase by one million the number of tourists visiting Israel largely through reducing the costs of visiting. For this purpose, Meseznikov has tasked a committee with finding ways to bring down the average price of a visit to Israel by 25 percent, and has until the end of 2012 to issue conclusions.
Prices for food and lodging in Israel are far from budget level and rival most of the more expensive destinations in Europe.
The ministry said Tuesday they will lower prices through the development of better professionalism among tourism workers, improvements in the tourism “product,” and refurbishing of tourism infrastructure, as well as working on improving the attractiveness of Israel as a destination.
They also described plans to reach out to emerging markets in countries like China, Brazil and India, largely as a result of the European financial crisis.
In addition, they will also look to further develop markets in Eastern Europe, in particular in the Ukraine and Poland.
According to figures released by the ministry on Tuesday, the number of Israelis visiting Israel made a 1% climb over the previous year, which set an all time record of 3.4 million.
The number one country of origin for visitors was the United States with 600,000 and second was Russia with 500,000, ministry figures read.
The ministry said 24% of visitors were Jews, 15% were Protestant, 35% Catholic, 10% “other Christians,” and the rest were filed under “other.” No other religions, including Muslims, were mentioned on the list.
The figures also found that 28% of visitors were on religious pilgrimages, 24% were in town for sightseeing and touring, 17% were visiting loved ones, 13% were on pure holiday rest and relaxation visits and 13% came for business.