Egged Tours’ new division to offer special trips to Jews

New department, called Israel Way, will attempt to capitalize on increase in incoming tourism, build up capabilities Jewish educational tours.

Guy Kahn 311 (photo credit: Egged Tours)
Guy Kahn 311
(photo credit: Egged Tours)
Egged Tours, a subsidiary of the Egged bus cooperative, announced Monday that it is expanding its operations and forming a new department to specialize in Jewish travel to Israel.
The new department, to be called Israel Way, will attempt to capitalize on the increase in incoming tourism and build up its capabilities in the field of Jewish educational tours.
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According to Egged Tours CEO Guy Kahn, the move is part of the company’s growth strategy for the next 10-15 years, during which they hope to become a leader in the field.
Egged Tours currently controls 60 percent of the market in domestic educational tours, working with schools, youth movements and other organizations, providing full operational and educational support.
The new department will adapt the company’s experience in the field to formulate tours for Jewish children, teens and adults coming from abroad.
“The backbone of our company’s operations are the 2,000 tour buses we own and can utilize at any time, and our staff of Education Ministry- certified instructors who are licensed to lead tours and train additional staff,” said Kahn.
“We plan to cater to all sorts of Jewish visitors, working with governmental, or semi-governmental projects like Birthright and Masa, working with national Jewish organizations and with particular Jewish communities,” said Kahn. “If someone’s son has a bar mitzva and wants to plan a tour to Israel with 60 people, we’ll do that too.”
According to Kahn, all Egged’s tours are tailor-made, based on the client’s demands and provide a mixture of fun together with Jewish value-based educational programming.
Running the new department will be Danny Mor, the former CEO of the Israel Experience, a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency.
“Danny brings with him years of experience from the front lines of educational tourism,” said Kahn. “Under him is a staff of 150 tourism professionals that provide expertise in planning and designing trips, leading groups in the field and teaching about Israel and Jewish values.
“The new department is split up according to regions of origin and we have staff that specialize in creating tours for people from North America, Latin America, the former Soviet Union countries and Western Europe,” said Kahn. “Some of the people already work with us and some are undergoing the hiring process now.”
Kahn stressed that Egged is a commercial, not a political, body and that its tours will be void of a particular political agenda.
“We will not engage in any content that is illegal, but we will present the participants with controversial issues. We believe that part of the educational experience is confronting participants with the issues and making them think about them. We will not present one-dimensional pictures. We believe that that misses the point,” said Kahn.
Kahn realizes that in making the move to expand, Egged Tours will be stepping on other companies’ toes, but said he is convinced that there is enough room for other players.
“The incoming tourism market is growing. According to the Tourism Ministry, there is a 10% growth in Jewish tourism to Israel on average every year. We realize this is a competitive market, but we believe that we have the resources to become a major player. At the end, those who benefit will be the tourists,” said Kahn.
When asked about the company’s plans for the future, Kahn said that after the development of the Jewish travel department, Egged Tours would seek to work with non- Jewish groups, too.
“Obviously the content and the emphasis will be different, but that’s where we’re aiming,” he said.