KOLKATA: A senior official of Israel tourism has said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Israel this year has given a boost to its tourism sector with the arrival of Indian tourists to Israel recording a rise of 26 per cent.
"The historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to our country has sparked a renewed interest among Indians to visit Israel," Hassan Madah, director-Israel ministry of tourism, India, told PTI.
"In the last seven months, over 34,000 Indians have visited Israel, which is a growth of 36 percent," he said.
PM Modi's visit, Madah said, had sent out a "positive message".
"First of all, it is the awareness that it is good to do business with each other, secondly business travellers influx will automatically grow. Overall the positive atmosphere is helping us (tourism sector) to grow ," Madah said.
He pointed out that direct flights from New Delhi to Israel, will help the tourism sector to grow much faster.
Madah said, talks are on for introducing direct Air India flights connecting New Delhi with Israel.
"If it (direct flight) commences, then the tourist traffic is likely to surge from India and vice-versa," he said.
When asked whether Israel would provide special package or concessions to Indian Jewish community wishing to visit Israel, Madah said, "As regards tourism, the population of the Jewish community in India is very small. Our focus is not the Jewish community."
"In the US, the Jewish community is very big, there our focus is the Jewish community," he said.
"In india, our focus is pilgrimage (tourism), quality tourism, leisure, events, conferences, incentive tourism," Madah said.
Quoting statistics, Madah said, near about 39,529 Indian tourists travelled to Israel in 2015 and the figure went up to 44,672 in 2016.
"Till July 2017, 34,300 Indians have visited Israel. So you can just see the rise," he said.