A total of 250 tourism professionals participated at the international business forum in Russia, arranged by the Israel
Ministry of Tourism across two cities – Saint-Petersburg on June 6 and Moscow on June 8. Tourism opportunities were presented by representatives across five regions in Israel: Jerusalem; Tel Aviv; Netanya; Eilat, and the Dead Sea.

Israel Ministry of Tourism General Director Amir Halevy participated in an official press conference at the Saint-
Petersburg event, saying: “Russian tourist flow occupies second place after the USA, having overtaken France. Within the first five months of 2017, we registered an increase in tourist arrivals of an average of 30 percent. This is why we have decided to increase the marketing budget by 20 percent – to support tour operators and to strengthen the advertising campaign. The Russian market is a priority for Israel and explains why the marketing and advertising budget has been increased almost twice since 2015.”

Statistics for the Russian Market
The agenda included topics on increasing the number of flights from Russian cities to Israel from 72 to 74 a week, decreasing the price of holidays to Israel by 20 percent within five years and an overview of visitor numbers to the country. Israel: 109,400 Russian tourists visited Israel between January to April 2017, a 37 percent increase on the same period last year.

Jerusalem: a 34 percent increase in the number of Russian visitors staying in hotels in Jerusalem for the first half of the year in comparison to 2016, with an average length of stay of three nights.

Tel Aviv: The number of Russian tourists visiting Tel Aviv over the last six months increased by 50 percent compared to last year, with Russians accounting for the second biggest tourism market in Israel, after the USA.

Dead Sea: 40 percent of tourist nights are booked by Russians, with a 30 percent increase in bookings so far this year in comparison to the same period in 2016.

Eilat: The reimbursement program of charter flights was identified as a factor in the 113 percent increase of Russian
visitors traveling to Eilat between October 2016 and April 2017. Furthermore, 50 percent of the incoming tourism market to Eilat are from Russia.

Israel Travel Awards
The launch of the Israel Travel Awards was announced during the forum, an initiative in co-operation between the Israel Ministry of Tourism and the Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR), to present winners with a trip to Israel. The contest is open to Russian tour operators, travel agents, journalists and bloggers working with the Israel Ministry of Tourism to promote the country as a travel destination, with one of the awards given to those who generated the best sales performance during the period of January 1 to September 30,

For tour operators and travel agents, awards will also be presented across categories including most active Israel tour operator, loyalty, creativity, training work and breakthrough operator; and for media, across two nominations of: “The best journalist highlighting Israel as a travel destination,” and “The best blogger highlighting Israel as a travel destination.”