By Roy Mabasa
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat has stepped up the country’s campaign to promote the Philippines as a major tourist destination as it sets up the biggest booth in the Annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) 2019 in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
On Monday, Israel Tourism Minister Yariv Levin welcomed Secretary Romulo-Puyat during a courtesy call to the former’s office in Jerusalem.
In the meeting, both officials discussed the proposed direct flights from Manila to Israel and the signed labor agreement that allows up to 1,000 Filipinos to work in Israeli hotels.
Statistics from the Israel Ministry of Tourism showed that a total of 28,600 Filipinos traveled to Israel in 2018 with a 31% increase versus 2017 while the Philippines achieved a growth of 16.61% increase in 2018 over the previous year with a 20,343 Israelis visiting the country. Philippine passport holders can enjoy visa-free access to Israel up to 90 days.
Also present in the meeting were Ambassador Neal Imperial, Undersecretary Benito Bengzon Jr., Israel Tourism Director to India and the Philippines Hassan Madah and embassy officials.
“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel. We have broken incoming tourism records and this achievement is the direct result of intensive work that we are doing at the Tourism Ministry. This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world. Incoming tourism makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its’ image,” Minister Levin said.
The IMTM is an annual tourism event that brings together professionals and service providers from the tourism industry and introduces new attractions and tourist destinations.