(JNS.org) Israel's Ministry of Tourism on Wednesday announced two major steps they expect will significantly increase Chinese tourism to Israel.
"The approval of the ten year multiple entry visa and the cancellation of fees for Chinese tourist groups are important steps that join other marketing steps to break into the Chinese market," said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin in a press release.
Levin noted that Interior Minister Aryeh Deri helped lead the process for the new initiative and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was integral in ensuring approval for the changes.
"China is a most important country . . . It is very important that as many tourists as possible visit Israel from China. These are procedures that will greatly assist both Israeli and Chinese tourism and will significantly contribute to bi-lateral relations and the economy of both countries," Deri said.
Originally the entry visa for Chinese tourists was only three months. Now, as a result of a mutual agreement between China and Israel, the Chinese are allowed to visit Israel multiple times in a 10-year period. This includes Israelis visiting China, with both countries allowing up to 90 days per visit.
In addition, Israeli tourists will no longer have to wait more than 3 days to obtain a visa and Chinese tourist groups may add names of tourists to their group up to one day prior to departure for Israel.
The NIS 35 visa fee per person traveling in a group to Israel was also cancelled.
Israel's Tourism Ministry has prioritized their marketing strategy on China, for instance, because Chinese tourists spend the most money during their stay in Israel, spending $1,947 per tourist, per visit compared to the average of $1,600. Also, the number of tourists from China has increase dramatically since 2000 with a 43 percent increase from 2014 to 2015 alone.