Israel will be celebrating its 70th Independence Day in April 2018. While Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem draw thousands of tourists annually to Israel for historic and religious reasons, you may be surprised to learn how modern and metropolitan Israel has become over the last 7 decades.
Israel’s has been dubbed the “Start-Up Nation,” with more start-ups per capita than anywhere in the world. Israel has brought us technology including the USB, text messaging and WhatsApp. Today, high tech, mobile and automotive companies are holding incentives in Israel to visit industry leaders making an impact.
During my recent trip to Israel over Thanksgiving Week, I stopped by the offices of Eshet Incentives and Conferences to speak with Michal Kafkafi, Director Sales & Marketing about the exciting trends happening in Israel for the meetings and incentives industry.
Getting to Israel is becoming easier as the airlift capacity from countries and airlines around the world is increasing at a rapid rate. El Al and all American carriers already have daily connections. Hainan Airlines, Air India, Cathay Pacific Airlines will start service next year. Turkish Airlines has nine daily flights bringing people from North and South America via Istanbul. Lastly, low cost airlines throughout Europe have added flights to Israel.
While Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport is Israel’s largest and busiest international airport, Eilat with many luxury resorts on the Red Sea will open the new Eilat Ramon International Airport in 2018 which will be great for incentive programs.
The busy season for meetings and incentives is March – June, though Israel’s mild weather allows for meetings year-round. July and August are typically busy months for leisure travel.
According to Michal, most groups want to visit Jerusalem and its holy sites as well as the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. Tel Aviv is gaining a reputation of a city that never sleeps with amazing hotels, meeting venues, restaurants and great night life. Western European incentives are 3-5 nights, while North and South American incentives tend to be 6-7 nights. Both have groups ranging from 20 – 400 people.
Due Israel’s size, every city and attraction are within a short bus ride. Also, Michal says not to worry about attendees exploring on their own as English is spoken everywhere and even the road signs are in English. Israel is cosmopolitan, I heard English, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Farsi, Russian and Italian spoken during my travels.
Michal shared with me some amazing Special Event ideas to make any incentive or meeting memorable. There are several special event locations are in, above and under Jerusalem. Olmaya overlooks the Old City walls, Zidkiyahu’s Cave, known as King Solomon’s Quarry, is 500 feet underneath the of the Old City, or the Tower of David situated just inside the city walls.
For those looking for the Lawrence of Arabia experience, there are Bedouin dinners staged in a desert setting. For smaller groups between 12 and 20 there are Home Hospitality and Shabbat Experience evenings, where attendees eat in the homes of Israeli hosts to gain a more personal insight of the country.
Israel is an amazing, eclectic destination of both new and old to experience and explore.