Israel has unveiled a major new tourism campaign, which will include taking up an electronic billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus.
The campaign will focus heavily on Israel’s rapid Covid-19 vaccination programme and its stringent new Covid health and safety protocols, as well as the Red Sea resort of Eilat where the country will incentivise airlines to fly.
The country plans to reopen to groups of vaccinated tourists from the end of May, and to all vaccinated travellers in July.
"Israel today is a world leader in safety and health, and we will make sure every potential tourist knows this when planning their summer or winter vacation," said Israeli tourism minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen on Tuesday (27 April).
“We cannot miss this opportunity – and, as minister of tourism, I won’t."
Besides London, Israel will initially target prospective visitors in the UAE and the US with billboard ads in Dubai and New York’s Times Square.
“The UK and US have always been large markets for inbound tourism," said Farkash-Hacohen. "I have no doubt, we will see many tourists from all three countries within a short period of time."
Israel will promote several large international events this year to drive tourism, including Tel Aviv’s annual Pride parade; a special Abraham Cycling Cup tour, which will see Israel and the UAE co-host the annual Tour of Dubai race; and an international music festival.
Farkash-Hacohen said Israel’s tourism ministry would once again incentivise foreign carriers to fly to Ramon airport, serving the Red Sea resort of Eilat. The incentive was paused when the Covid pandemic took hold last year, and will reward airlines for every tourist they bring to Israel.
"Ensuring inbound tourism to Eilat is my obligation to the city’s residents, but this is also a clear statement to the entire tourism industry," she said. "We are preparing for the resumption of tourism on a large scale as soon as possible."
Israel will reopen to a limited number of vaccinated groups at the end of May, and to vaccinated non-group travellers in July. Farkash-Hacohen said the decision would further limit the risk to Israeli citizens from a resumption of international travel and tourism.
"We are gradually reopening tourism to Israel, to ensure we protect the health and wellbeing of all Israelis, while enabling those in the tourism sector to return to work and rebuild – and welcoming back the many people yearning to return," she added.