In what seems to be a diplomatically friendly approach towards China, Israel has revised its visa policies for Chinese travellers. The state of Israel has decided to completely waive the group fees on Chinese travellers in a bid to boost tourism in the country and also has revised its current visa policy to allow Chinese tourists to visit the country on multiple-entry visas with a 10 years validity, stated a notice issued on Thursday by the government of Israel. The visa reforms decision was reached after both the countries signed a bilateral agreement on March 29th, agreeing to extend the visa validity for tourists of both nations to 10 years from the current validity of three months, the notice went on to state.
According to the revision of visa rules, a traveller can visit either of the nations for a duration of 90 days during a visit with multiple entries to the country for a period of 10 years. Chinese travellers who visit Israel in groups will no more have to pay group fees. According to the results of the survey on Chinese tour operators, there are considerable financial and bureaucratic barriers that are preventing the influx of tourists from China to Israel, stated the Ministry of Tourism, Israel. The fee, which is approximate $9 or 35 shekels per individual, which has to be paid by travel agents in addition to the handling fees that is paid to private tour operators who represent them in Israel.
The Tourism Ministry of Israel, in its written statement, said that the new rules are aimed at addressing major hindrances to the influx of tourists visiting Israel from China. The Israeli government hopes to attract close to 100,000 Chinese travellers to the country each year by the year 2018. Aryeh Deri, Israel’s Interior Minister stated that the state of Israel considers China as an important contributor towards the growth of tourism industry in Israel and is making efforts to promote tourism among Chinese visitors through concessions, thus strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two nations across other sectors. Deri went on to say that lifting of bureaucratic hurdles that plague Chinese travellers signals ease of travel and will generate the much-needed influx of tourists to the country. He further added that the government had recently eased visa regulations for Chinese diplomats and the same is now being extended to the tourists.
Israel’s survey on Annual Inbound Tourism shows that on an average, an individual Chinese traveller spends close to $1,947 during his or her trip, which is much above the average spends by tourists visiting from other countries (average expense by a non-Chinese traveller is $1,600 per person). Israel is steadily seeing an increase in the number of Chinese travellers visiting the country in recent years. As per the statistics released by the tourism ministry of Israel, the number of Chinese travellers to Israel in the year 2014 grew by 86% compared to the number of travellers in 2013. The influx grew by a further 43% (more than 47,000 tourists) in the year 2015 from China and this growth trend persisted with a 45% increase in Chinese travellers to Israel (compared to 2015) during the first half of the year 2016 (82% growth when compared to the number of Chinese visitors during 2014).
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