Jessica Pook speaks to Michael Ben-Baruch, the new Director of Tourism for Israel, about his goal to increase exposure of the destination in the UK and what activity he has planned for the trade.
Tell us what you are looking forward to most about your new role?
There are so many things that excite me about the new role. Personally, it is a great honour for me to serve as a representative of the State of Israel and promote it as a tourist destination to the UK market. Professionally speaking I’m excited to be able to reveal the beauty, scenery, and diversity that Israel has to offer to holiday makers.
From a family point of view, this is an exciting opportunity to go on a joint journey and see the children getting used to a new place [Michael has relocated to London from the south of Israel for the position]. For all these reasons, I look forward to embracing this new challenge.
What activity do you have planned for the trade?
We have some fresh ideas for the coming months. Together with my fantastic team, we will work to ensure that our trade partners get to know and experience the Israel that we know, and this means holding events and fam trips to reveal the incredible culture, landscapes, and people of our country.
Israel, as a tourist destination, offers a unique holiday where, in a short period time, you can enjoy a wide variety of experiences – diverse and beautiful landscapes, important places of historical and religious value, fabulous beaches, an excellent culinary scene, and a lively and outgoing lifestyle.
Along with the more familiar places such as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Dead Sea, we will work to uncover lesser-known places that can offer a unique experience, such as the desert in Israel, getting to know the various communities and the local culture.
How is Israel performing as a tourism destination?
The global forecast for 2024 indicates that tourism is expected to return to pre pandemic levels in terms of numbers of visitors, and the tourism experience. Today we are very close to welcoming the same number of British tourists we did in 2019, and I’m hopeful that next year will be a record breaking one for visitors from the UK.
What will surprise visitors most about Israel?
Those who are not familiar with Israel will be surprised to discover the diversity and contrasts of the destination.
The short distance between the various places allows for a multidimensional experience – a 40-minute train ride connects the holy and historic city of Jerusalem, to modern and vibrant Tel Aviv.
The spectacular desert in the country’s southern region is only a three-hour drive from the lush scenery of the north. Israel’s extensive and diverse offering will suit everyone’s taste. Factoring in the great weather, incredible culinary scene and the variety of communities and ethnicities in the country positions Israel to become a top holiday destination.