Israel has offered Air India a one-time grant of 750,000 euros to launch direct flights between New Delhi and Tel Aviv, which is likely to be launched next month, a senior Israeli official said today.
"The Ministry of Tourism will approve a grant to Air India in response to their request and according to the conditions of the directive, which includes a grant of 250,000 Euro per weekly flight, up to a total of three weekly flights," Lydia Weitzman, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, told PTI here.
"It is a one-time grant for an airline opening a new direct route into Tel Aviv (TLV) from a destination that has potential for incoming tourism," she said.
Informed sources here said that the Indian flag carrier could start its direct flights into Israel from New Delhi on March 20, flying thrice a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Dubbed a "game changer" in Israel's efforts to promote inbound tourism from India, Air India's direct flight between New Delhi and Tel Aviv would be operating on the shortest route and is expected to bring down significantly the cost of travel between the two countries.
"Hopefully Air India would soon start direct flights between India and Tel Aviv which is going to be a game changer increasing manifold the number of tourists coming from India to Israel.
"The number of tourists from China to Israel doubled in one year after the start of direct flight by Hainan Airlines. We expect something similar with India," Director General of Israel's Ministry of Tourism, Amir Halevi, had told PTI earlier in an interview.
Halevi also said that Tel Aviv expects India to be one of the top three countries sending tourists to Israel because of which the Israeli Ministry of Tourism has been investing significantly in marketing the country's tourism potential there.
In its efforts to attract Indian tourists, Israel has increased its promotional budgetary allocation to USD 2.5 million in the last two years and is also working towards easing visa norms.
Israel has also opened a tourism office in India which has been organising several promotional events not only to bring in tourists but also to lure Bollywood producers to shoot their films here.
The efforts have led to an increase of about 31 per cent tourists from India last year, reaching an all time high figure of 60,000, the ministry said.
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