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Israel seeks 100,000 UAE tourists a year after landmark pact

Israel seeks 100,000 UAE tourists a year after landmark pact

A record 4.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2019

Israel seeks to attract as many as 100,000 tourists a year from the United Arab Emirates, a new market that’s opened up following the normalisation accord the countries signed this month.

It sees the pool of visitors coming from both UAE citizens and foreigners living there, according to a report prepared by the Tourism Ministry. The target refers to the period after the coronavirus pandemic, and would follow several years with more modest goals.

Israel and the UAE have been exploring business opportunities since deciding to normalise relations, with new cooperation pacts signed in sectors ranging from banking to mobile phone services.

Saudi Arabia has granted overfly rights to flights between Israel and the UAE, reducing travel time to about three hours.

Israel’s attractions include its proximity and Muslim religious sites, while security concerns and relatively low value for money at hotels are among its drawbacks. In addition, travelers may be required to obtain visas, an issue that still hasn’t been decided.

The ministry proposes spending about $1m on developing the market in the first year, including increasing the number of Arabic-speaking tour guides.

During the first year following the pandemic, Israel will target 20,000 visitors. That would increase to 50,000 in the second year and 80,000 in the third. A record 4.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2019.

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