Tourism Minister Yariv Levin thanked the directors of Hainan airlines on their decision to open a direct route to Israel, saying "Opening this route, which is a vote of confidence in the tourism potential, will facilitate a significant expansion in the numbers of tourists traveling into Israel from China. When I took office, I identified the increase of tourism from China as a central goal for the ministry and the opening of this route is an important element in the work plan and goals that I set. As a result of this announcement, I have instructed the marketing administration in the tourism ministry to launch a comprehensive and unprecedented marketing campaign in China to that by 2016 we will already significantly increase the numbers of tour operators marketing Israel in China."
Jerusalem, September 21, 2015 - China's largest private airline, Hainan Airlines, announced at the end of last week the opening of a direct nonstop service from Tel Aviv to Beijing from April 28, 2016, with flight sales to begin within the coming days in China and after the Jewish holidays in Israel. The airline will operate a two-class Airbus 330 three days a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, with 36 business class seats and 178 economy seats.
According to the announcement from Hainan Airlines, the new flight complements the carrier’s existing domestic nonstop connections to Beijing and other major cities in China, such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Passengers can transfer easily to many other cities with low fares after arriving in Beijing, according to the company.
The flight will depart Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport at 13:25 pm and arrive at Beijing Capital International Airport at 05:00pm the following day. The flight time is 11 hours westbound and 9 hours 30 minutes eastbound.
After several years of activities related to developing the incoming tourism market from China, that included bilateral meetings and delegations from the Tourism Ministry in Israel and China with the assistance of Israel Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, and the presentation of the economic benefits inherent in the route, the Tourism Ministry welcomes the opening of the route by Hainan Airlines. Until now, only El Al Airlines operated a direct route between Tel Aviv and Beijing.
The Tourism Ministry believes that an increase in seat capacity between Israel and China will lead to a significant increase in the number of tourists from China, that today stands at about 40,000 a year. At the same time, the Tourism Ministry has been investing significantly in preparing the relevant tourism infrastructure for Chinese tourists who have specific requirements. Among others, the ministry identified a lack of Chinese-speaking tour guides and worked to open a course for tour guides in Chinese. The ministry also worked in cooperation with the relevant authorities to shorten by two-thirds the length of time it takes to issue a visa for Israel for Chinese tourists. The ministry is also operating courses, given by Chinese chefs, to teach Chinese cuisine to their Israeli counterparts in order to ensure that the Chinese tourist can enjoy the cuisine with which they are familiar.
The number of outbound tourists from China increases year on year. In 2012, China became the world's largest outbound tourism market (83 million tourists with an expenditure of $102 billion. ) In 2014, this figure rose to 116 million tourists, with an expenditure of $120 billion. Over 200 million tourists are expected from China by the year 2020. In every year over the course of the coming decade, 25 million tourists are expected to take vacations overseas from China for the first time.
Over the last three years, there has been a constant growth in the percentage increase of incoming tourism from China to Israel - even though the actual numbers are low in comparison to the overall Chinese market. In 2014, about 34,100 visitors from China arrived in Israel, 36.2% more than 2013 when 25,042 came; 76% more than 2012 when the numbers reached 19,416.
Hainan Airlines is the largest privately-owned Chinese airlines and the fourth largest in China, after the government-owned China Eastern Airlines, Air China and China Southern Airlines. Hainan Airlines has 137 planes and operates about 600 domestic and international routes linking 90 cities.