Travel advisors are about to find that it’s even easier to sell trips to Israel.
Eyal Carlin, the Israel Ministry of Tourism’s Commissioner for North America, has made his first foray to Canada since the start of pandemic, and he arrived in a good mood. Speaking to the media on 20MAR at Israeli Tourism offices in Toronto, Carlin said he was very excited to be back in the True North.
“It’s been a rough couple of years … but Canada is back on the horse.”
Carlin said Canada’s visitation rate in February of this year was just 5 per cent below FEB 2019 visitor levels, despite high air fares and roughly 30 per cent less air lift to Israel from Canada. Some 100,000 Canadians visited Israel in 2019.
Carlin said Israel has a new website for agents.
They’re also introducing a series of “significant” new learning modules that will provide advisors with the kind of in-depth knowledge they need to make sales. The modules will allow agents “to know all the hidden gems and selling points,” officials said.
There will be a general intro for advisors to review, and then four individual modules for further study: faith, multigenerational travel/heritage, outdoor/active and food/wine/culture. Advisors need to take the introductory course, and then can take one to four of the other modules. Each should only take about a half-hour.
Agents looking for more information also can use the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We aim to be much more present in Canada with both trade and consumer. We also want to make our FAM trips more robust,” said Gal Hana, Senior Director of Tourism for Canada, Israel Ministry of Tourism.
He later explained the ministry wants to have FAM trip participants zero in on specific areas, and have them work with specific partners.
Israel Tourism has produced a series of 34 YouTube videos highlighting different areas of the country and topics for both consumers and trade. The campaign is called “Israel, Exactly Like Nowhere Else,” and is being rolled out in print and digital formats. It’s already in the U.S. and it’s coming soon to Canada.
Officials said they want to be more visible in the Canadian market.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” Carlin said. “The Canadian traveller has many options to choose from, and we want them to choose Israel. It’s both a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern country.”
Hana said the pandemic made consumers realize how vital travel advisors are. But agents still need to worry about OTA’s and Artificial Intelligence. “If an advisor just does the easy sales, they’re going to be eliminated from the market, tomorrow if not today. You can’t really book Israel on an OTA or with a ChatBot. You need a travel advisor who is really an Israel specialist.”
“The focus is definitely the diversity,” Hana said. “There’s nowhere else that you can visit Jerusalem, the birthplace of so many religions. I think the best part of the Dead Sea is in Israel. You also have so many urban experiences in close proximity to one another."
“It’s all about the hands-on experiences, the uniqueness of Israel,” said Jerry Adler, Deputy Director for Canada/ Director, PR + Communications. “You can go to Israel five or ten times and stand on the same street corner and see something you didn’t see before.”
Air Canada flies to Tel Aviv TLV daily from YYZ. In MAY they’ll begin seasonal (for now, at least) flights from YUL, which will be twice a week in MAY, then four a week June to September, and three a week in OCT. Officials hope the flights get extended to year-round.
Hana and Carlin said there are tons of luxury products for agents to sell in Israel, including The Ritz-Carlton, Six Senses, Setai and other posh hotels. There also are new cruises from Haifa that agents can sell.
Carlin said Michelin is supposed to bring its star guide to Israel this year or next.
Hana said Israel also wants to build its MICE business.
On top of all that, this year marks the 75th anniversary of the creation of Israel.