DOT eyes more tourists from Israel

THE Department of Tourism is pursuing Israel as a new source of travelers in the country this year and onwards.

Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Teo said last year’s very good performance inspired the DOT to sustain its presence at the 23rd International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) last February at the TLV Convention Center in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel.

The IMTM is the largest annual professional tourism fair of its kind in the Eastern Mediterranean attended by around 25,000 tourism and travel executives. It serves to promote inbound, domestic and outbound tourism, as well as to strengthen cooperation among tourism bodies in Israel and elsewhere in the world.

DOT Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr, head of the Philippine Tourism delegation, said “Last year, we received 16,725 arrivals from Israel, up by 42.27-percent the highest growth rate among the markets. We remain optimistic of hitting 20,000 to 22,000 arrivals for 2017 considering that among Israel travelers, the Philippines is gaining preference as an emerging tourism destination.”

Meanwhile, Bengzon also took part in a productive bilateral meeting between the Philippine delegation and Israel Tourism Minister Yariv Levin where they discussed the possibility of hiring Filipinos in luxury hotels in Israel and the providing on-the-job trainings for Filipino students in this Middle East country.

“We are now open to hiring Filipinos to work in the hotel industry, especially the high-end hotels in Israel. An initial 500 to 700 Filipinos is being targeted. We are also exploring to allow on-the-job trainings in these hotels,” Minister Levin disclosed.

“The bilateral agreement is based on mutual interests among travelers of both the Philippines and Israel. Many Filipinos are pilgrims to the Holy Land and then visit Israel’s museums, historical landmarks and ecotourism sites. On the other hand, Israelis are drawn to our country mainly for vacation and leisure. At an average of 20 nights per trip, their favorite places include Manila, Cebu, Boracay, Palawan, Banaue and Puerto Galera. Diving, shopping, interesting culture and the warmth of our people are what they like most,” Secretary Teo revealed.

While in Manila, Levin met with officers of Philippine Airlines (PAL) to address the issue of direct flights to Manila from his country.

“We will immediately coordinate with all stakeholders concerned to fast track the implementation of hiring Filipinos in Israel hotels,” Bengzon stressed.

Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial mentioned that this prospect of hiring Filipinos will be coordinated with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as well as with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for the on-the-job trainees.

Tourism is one of Israel’s major sources of income with more than 10 million tourist arrivals in 2015, mostly from North America and Europe. A total of 11,156 Filipinos visited the country in 2015.

The Filipino worker, globally pursued in different sectors, will serve to enhance Israel’s hospitality industry that operates thousands of hotels, restaurants and wineries. (With reports from the Manila Times)


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