Kolkata, Aug 29 (IANS) Israel, which is expecting about 90,000 Indian tourists in 2018, is hopeful of attracting at least 3 lakh Indian visitors annually in the next three-four years by improving the air-connectivity between the two countries, an Israeli official said here on Wednesday.
“Around 60,000 Indian tourists visited Israel in 2017 and we are expecting around 90,000 Indian tourists in 2018. I think within 3-4 years, we should reach at least the 3 lakh figure,” Ministry of Tourism Director (India and Philippines), Hassan Madah said here on the sidelines of a roadshow.
In 2017, the country attracted 3 million international tourists, mostly from the US, Russia and western European countries.
“Tourism is on the rise in Israel and inbound arrivals from India have appreciably increased in the last few years. With a half-yearly record growth of 82 per cent as compared to the same period in 2015, more than 44,000 Indian tourists have already visited the country from January to July, 2018,” Madah said.
In March 2018, Air India launched its direct flight operations from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, the fastest non-stop flight connecting India with Israel, he said, adding that the airline is increasing flights in the route.
In addition to this, Israeli airline El Al currently has three weekly non-stop flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv.
Israeli carrier Arkia has also expressed interest to begin operations connecting the two countries, he said.
Madah said the opening of the Kolkata Israel Visa Application Centre for West Bengal and northeastern states would help increase interest among travellers from these regions of India.
The country is fast becoming the Middle-East’s newest business tourism destination, gaining popularity with the Indian corporate segment, he added.