With outstanding food and wine scenes, tons of sunshine, amazing history and world-class culture, both Israel and Portugal are top destinations for Canadian visitors.
Speaking to a group of agents and travel trade members at a downtown Toronto function on 30NOV, TAP Air Portugal’s Lillian Vieira, District Sales Manager Canada, said travellers can fly to Porto or Lisbon on their way to or from Israel and stay for five days at no extra charge.
“There’s so much history, so much culture,” said Idit Shamir, Consul General for Israel, Toronto and Western Canada. “It’s a great opportunity (for Portugal and Israel) to join together.”
“Israel as a destination offers so much excitement. It’s an experience you can’t miss, and every customer that goes to Israel wants to come back,” said Fiona Kosmin, Director of Marketing and Partnerships for Canada for Israel Tourism.
Sofia Batalha, Portugal’s Consul General for Canada, said her country offers 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and has 800 kilometers of beaches. Portugal also offers dozens of world heritage sites and “a cuisine as varied as the landscape.”
Gal Hana, Israel Tourism, told the group that his country is putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and to getting visitors to explore new areas of the country.
Agents know about Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, he said, but they might not have explored the beautiful, vast Negev Desert.
Visitors have come to Israel on religious pilgrimages for years, but tourism officials also want them to experience the country’s night life and culinary scene, as well as to explore the 250-plus wineries and craft breweries they have to offer.
TAP Air Portugal is a member of the Star Alliance, as is Air Canada. They have a fleet of new, low-emission Airbus jets and offer direct, non-stop flights to Lisbon from both Toronto and Montreal, Vieira said.
“We also offer the least expensive business class seats to Europe.”
Ines Almeida Garrett, Visit Portugal Director Canada, said Portugal offers city breaks, amazing wine and food, cycling, water sports, nature, birdwatching and 91 golf courses. There’s also a significant Jewish legacy in Portugal that visitors can explore.
Jim Byers is a freelance travel writer based in Toronto. He was formerly travel editor at the Toronto Star and now writes for a variety of publications in Canada and around the world. He's also a regular guest on CBC, CTV News, Global News and other television and radio networks.