Since the end of Operation Protective Edge in August 2014, Israel has seen a steady growth in the number of tourists. By August 2015, inbound tourists grew by 45%, indicating a positive trend that many expect will continue into 2016. However, the number of visitors have not returned to what it was before August 2014. This is both an issue that needs to be solved and an opportunity for tour and activity companies to seize to strengthen their position in the market.
To make the most of what is to come, here are 5 main travel trends you should be prepared for in 2016.
1. Expect an increase in number of hotel rooms
The government has recently revealed a 10 year plan to increase the number of hotel rooms by 50%, in hopes of attracting investment from foreign hotel chains and reducing hotel room prices by round 20%.
The plan is to allow for a fast-track development of tourism infrastructure by cutting down on the tedious applications processes that has deterred many hoteliers in the past.
2. There will be a rise in posh hotels and even posher service
Speaking of hotels, in 2013 and 2014, the Ritz Carlton and the Waldorf Astoria arrived in style in Israel, introducing excellent service and heavenly luxury at coveted upmarket locations. This sparked a trend.
Coupled with the new fast-track development plans, one should also expect an increase in ultra chic boutique hotels to appear in the next few years. Imagine a hipster Pinterest board exploding all over a building. They would most probably serve artisan fair trade coffee too.
Read an article I wrote on how to tweak your existing tours to appeal to the luxury travel market to help your company make the most of the influx of luxury travellers.
3. There will also be an increase in low cost flights and budget travellers
Since the “Open Skies” agreement signed between the EU and Israel in 2013, many low cost carriers have been working to set up regular flights between the two regions.
This July, Ryan Air joined its low-cost competitors EasyJet, Wizz Air and Norwegian in Tel Aviv, operating up to six direct flights a week from Budapest, Kaunas and Krakow.
Of course low-cost flights will also allow a lot more budget travellers to explore and experience the richness of Israel's cultural and spiritual heritage.
4. You will have more visitors from Russia and China
In recent months, as with the rest of the world, Israel has looked toward Russia and China in hopes of attracting more inbound tourism from these countries.
Since the ban on Russian flights to Turkey, there has been increased marketing efforts by the Tourism ministry to attract Russians to visit Israel as an alternative. On top of that, the tourism ministry is also offering a rebate of €45 to European carriers for each passenger they fly into Ovdah.
As for Chinese visitors, the tourism ministry has allowed fast-track visa applications for Chinese nationals who already possess visas for either the United States or the European Union.
As for group visas, the ministry has also approved fast-track application processes and even allow changes to be made up to 24 hours before departure.
5. Safety net for conference organisers
The tourism ministry has also introduced the Safety Net initiative that will compensate international conference organisers for conferences that need to be cancelled or rescheduled between 2017 and 2020.
The ministry will compensate organisers in the event of cancellation or reschedules due to geo-political occurrences, according to a set of specified terms. One of the conditions involve registering the even through a destination management company (DMC).
For tour and activity providers, this could mean working with DMCs to organise day trips or activities for a large crowd. What better way to make the most of this opportunity than by ensuring that your company has a management software that helps you keep track of your various activities to ensure that you provide the best possible experience to your customers.
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