Culinary tourism company Yalla Basta launched in 2012, operating a number of websites dedicated to markets across Israel. “One of our founders was working in the field of SEO, with an interest in culinary tourism, and noticed an increased interest in people searching for Mahane Yeduda Market,” outlines Operations Manager Maria Zavin. “It was at the time when the concept of culinary tours was really taking off, and so he created a website for Mahane Yehuda Market, followed by other markets, which created an organic lead of traffic to our website.”
Yalla Basta initially offered ‘Bite Cards’, a token providing six vouchers for customers to use when sampling various tastes at markets across Israel. “Our Bite Cards come with a printed map on one side and provide an audio-guide through your smartphone, which explains the history and unique stories of the market,” explains Zavin. “The idea for the cards is to mix local food with history and sights, for people to enjoy at their own pace.”
The company soon diversified into offering two further products – walking tours and Bitemojo, a digital tour which runs from an app. “We have around 100 professionally certified tour guides, who have both history and culinary tourism expertise,” states Zavin. “We serve such a diverse mix of tourists, from FITs and families, to companies and guests on state visits, and so tours are available in a selection of languages including English, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Japanese.” Walking tours last between two to three hours with an additional option of specialty tours lasting several days. “Regardless of which tour selected, there is always time dedicated to exploring the neighborhood to highlight the connection between cultures, community and food.”
Bitemojo is a partner product of the company, which offers a self-guided tour on a route provided via smartphone application. Bitemojo tours in Israel are available in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the app is compatible for both iOS and Android, currently available in English and German. “This option is the latest growing trend in food tourism, as it has a global appeal through one easy to use system.” The app provides a guide that users can utilize at their own pace, which also highlights points of interest throughout the tour.
The company is working alongside a number of incoming tour agencies, international websites and portals offering group and individual touring experiences to customers. “People who are looking for markets in Israel will often find their way to our website, and we have worked hard to build strong channels of distribution, which encourages people to book a tour through Yalla Basta,” explains Zavin. “We offer quality products which meet the needs of a market who are increasingly interested in discovering local life through food and an authentic experience. The way markets have revolutionized through a transition into a cultural destination has allowed for us to meet the demands of the transition within the industry.”