Israel is seeking more investment in accommodation as international arrivals grow and in the advent of next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
The destination is hoping to hit 4 million international arrivals by the end of this year, having reached 3 million by the end of 2017, said Amir Halevi, director general of the Israel Ministry of Tourism.
The tourist board anticipates that the Eurovision event, due to be held in capital city Tel Aviv next May, will attract tens of thousands of tourists.
Halevi said the event would provide “huge potential”, adding: “but the question is how many beds will we have”?
Later this month Tel Aviv will host a summit that will welcome investors, encouraging them to develop more accommodation in the country.
Halevi continued: “Israel has become very attractive and our campaigns are visible all over the world. Now is the time to build more hotels.”
Growth potential will be bolstered further when Ramon International airport opens in the Eilat.
Although an exact date is still not confirmed, “all the infrastructure is there” and the opening is now dependent on final regulations.
In the meantime Israel has welcomed new flights this year including a new El Al direct flight between Ben Gurion International airport and Manchester in the UK launched today at World Travel Market London, and a new flight from Mumbai, India in March.
Halevi also noted that the number of direct flights from China meant he expected the market to continue to be a big one for Israel.
The city of Jerusalem has also seen impressive growth in international arrivals – a 47% increase year-on-year – and the city is addressing a similar capacity challenge.
Arie Sommer, director general of the Jerusalem Hotel Association said there are currently 10,000 rooms in the city and the hope is to double this within the next five to six years.
“It will create a lot of possibility and we want to build hotels at a range of price points. It used to be that there were a lot of American Jews visiting, so it was all five-star hotels for them. But we have seen it doesn’t work so we are ensuring we have a range including more modest hotels and hostels. Hostels are quite a new concept for Jerusalem.”
Ilanit Melchior, director of tourism at the Jerusalem Development Authority agreed saying: “We are working on increasing demand and supply with accommodation at different prices.”
She added that the youth market was key for the city and that it was investing in attracting millennials from markets including the UK, China, Russia, Germany, France and Italy.
“The combination of low-cost flights, affordable accommodation and cheap food such as street food means you can have a very reasonably priced getaway for five days or so.”
She added that the recently launched Jerusalem City Pass would add to this too as it offers a free airport shuttle service and discounts around the city.
The Jerusalem Development Authority will also launch a new campaign package for the Eurovision event, which will include the Jerusalem City Pass, parties and traditional tours.