Israel is looking east to China and India to help drive tourism, as visits to the country have yet to fully recover from the 2014 Gaza war, Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said. In 2015, tourism grew 43 percent from China to some 50,000 visitors and the ministry sees that doubling by 2018. It will be helped by the start of nonstop flights next month by Hainan Airlines from Beijing to Tel Aviv that will add 35,000 extra seats to Israel a year.
“This will change the game,” Halevi told Reuters. “The price of tickets will go down 50 percent.” Tourism in 2015 fell 3 percent to 3.1 million, following a war with Palestinian militants in Gaza in 2014. A weak Russian economy also weighed. In the six-week Gaza conflict, Israeli air strikes killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, while Palestinian militants killed six Israeli civilians and 67 soldiers. READ MORE