TAFI Convention 2015 to boost tourism between India & Israel

Posted On Apr 24, 2015

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TAFI Convention 2015 to boost tourism between India & Israel
TAFI convention held recently in Jerusalem is expected to give major fillip to tourism between India and Israel.

With relationship between India and Israel strengthening and the two countries working together in different areas, people to people contacts between these countries are also increasing. Amid the growing bonhomie between these two countries, the tourism sector can not remain unaffected from these positive developments, and number of people travelling from the one country to the other is bound to increase. Amid the growing closeness between these two countries, the convention of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI) was recently held in Jerusalem. The convention brought face to face the representatives of the travel & tourism industries of the two countries. The TAFI Convention was held on 22-25th February 2015 at The International Convention Centre (ICC), Jerusalem. Commonly known as the Binyenei HaUma, ICC is the largest and leading Convention Centre in Israel. The exhibition and conference hall floors of the convention centre can accommodate up to 10,000 people. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city is considered holy to the three major Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The delegates of TAFI were warmly welcomed by the hospitable and friendly people of Israel. This year the theme of TAFI convention was ‘The Challenge of Change’, which was very appropriate in context of changes taking places in the travel & tourism industry at faster pace, and the industry finding it difficult to catch up with these changes. Considering that TAFI had chosen Israel as the venue, and the stiff challenges and logistical problems that went with it, the Convention was a huge success and epitomized our theme: ‘The Challenges of Change’, said Zakkir Ahmed, President, TAFI, expressing his happiness over the grand success of the TAFI convention 2015.

Endorsing his view, Hassan Madah, Director, India, Israel Ministry of Tourism, said the convention was indeed a huge success. The delegates benefited from listening to veteran people of the tourism industry, who enlightened them with their insightful and thought-provoking speech. Delegates were provided with worldclass accommodations at top hotels. The three gala dinners at three different locations had their own charm with entertainment in abundance. Many tours were organized for the delegates to explore Jerusalem and Israel. According to Gladwyn Pinto, Executive Secretary General, TAFI, the inaugural event at the Israel Convention centre was truly electrifying and of a very high standard. Pinto shared that Israel’s Ministry of Tourism in a very crisp and interesting manner showcased the best of Israel through a beautiful video and some melodious dances. The WOW factor was very high and many delegates commented it was the best inaugural they had seen in years among various conventions of Associations. The feedback received by TAFI post-convention is very positive and encouraging, informed Ahmed. “Israel as a destination was seeing very few footfalls from India and we have now taken a step to correct this situation. Our members have had a first hand exposure to this country and have had all their concerns addressed. TAFI was the first travel body to introduce mobile apps downloads for its convention. The very carefully chosen business sessions were well appreciated and members felt they were relevant, interesting and user friendly.

And the speakers chosen after stringent criteria struck a critical link with our membership. The use of digital technology at our specially crafted evening function was another highlight. The Israelis in turn were more than impressed about how TAFI had embraced technology during the convention.” Subhash Goyal , President, Indian Association of Tour Operators, said, “The recent Convention of TAFI was one of the best TAFI conventions I have attended. It was very well organized, all the delegates were very well looked after and what as a professional, I admired most was that in spite of flight cancellations due to snow in Turkey, the TAFI secretariat and also the TAFI President, Zakkir Ahmed and General Secretary, Pradip Lulla were in constant touch on their mobiles and took personal care of each and every requirements of the delegates.” The Business sessions at the convention were well-attended and very interactive with plenty of take-aways for the delegates. The B2B exhibition with Israel operators was another platform which was well utilised for exploring business opportunities. “The day tours after the business sessions as well as the pre & post tours were meticulously planned & very well executed. Delegates got a first hand experience of all that Israel had to offer – beaches, desserts, archeological sites, interesting modern cities, pilgrimage sites, multi-cuisine & much more,” said Pinto. According to Pradip Lulla, National General Secretary of TAFI, The TAFI convention in Jerusalem was a great success thanks to the efficient handling by TAFI’s handling agents Ortra Ltd. The opening gala evening was a great cultural and entertaining programme lined up by the IGTO. The business sessions which followed in the next two days were interesting and topical with the likes of International renowned motivational speaker Lior Zoref, Indian ambassador to Israel Jaideep Sarkar, Deputy Director Israel Tourism Oren Drori, UFTAA board member Yossi Fatael, MD of Mercury Travels Ashwini Kakker, head of CAPA South Asia Kapil Kaul. The daily afternoon sightseeing tours of Jerusalem with elaborate evening functions were greatly appreciated. The additional pre and post sponsored tours to adjoining areas like Dead Sea, Massada, Sea of Galilee, Tiberas, Haifa and Telaviv were also appreciated. Terming the convention a grand success, Praveen Chugh, VP, TAFI said, “TAFI always believes in being a path-breaker and it was under this principle that it scheduled its annual convention at Jerusalem which has for long been a historical, spiritual and cultural international hub. Religious tourism is very significant because it is an immensely holy site for three religions, namely, Christianity, Judaism and Islam. But for TAFI’s initiative to organise its convention at Jerusalem, this unique destination with such diverse attractions, would still have remained unexplored.” He added, “It signifies the world that beckons the Indian travel agents to new frontiers, new business vistas and new technology graced by the elite in the travel industry including trade partners in the host country.” Explaining how Israel will benefit from the convention, Ahmed said that Israel received 35,000 Indians in 2014, and this was largely restricted to religious and agricultural field.

“The destination now wants to shift gears by positioning itself as a MICE and leisure destination. It is now aiming to attract one lakh Indians by 2017, and the TAFI Conventionwas a step in that direction. There have been security concerns about Israel, and our members saw for themselves that Israel is a safe destination. The world famous Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the lesser known Masada, Caeseria and Haifa were other aspects to catch the eye,” said Ahmed. Lulla said the first hand experience of the destination to 550 delegates in terms of cultural, historical and leisure sights will give them impetus to sell it to their clients effectively and Israel will see a great increase in their tourism from India. According to Goyal, Israel can benefit a great deal from Indian Tourists because of the following reasons: a) Israel is very close geographically, politically and culturally to India. b) Indian Outbound Tourism is growing at 15 to 20 % every year. The total number of Indians who travelled abroad last year was close to 17 million and the total number of Domestic Tourism in the country is that a billion. It is interested to note that over 60 million Indians travelled by Air within India and these areall potential outbound travellers. c) Indians spent a lot of money during their holidays and are the number one shoppers in Dubai in Srilanka, Singapore, Malaysia and London so Israel has a lot of interesting things for Indians and Israel can benefit from Indian shoppers also. d) Indian tourists today are looking at lot of new destinations and Israel has a lot to offer. Goyal continued: Apart from this, Indians would be very keen to experience the Dead Sea where you cannot drown and also experience the life of staying in a Kibbutz. Israel is one of the finest tourist destinations and has a lot of attractions like the Birth place of Lord Jesus Christ, the place where he was crucified and also the most important pilgrimage sites of Judaism and Islam are there in this beautiful country.

As regards members of TAFI benefiting from this convention, Ahmed said: There were several benefits coming their way, by virtue of being in Israel. The exposure will do them a lot of good. “Earlier they thought of Israel being a hot spot, but now I am sure they have changed their minds. It will add another destination to their portfolio, when they advise and recommend holidays to their customers. The visa process is under review to be streamlined and the proposal is to introduce e-visas, to facilitate quick issuance,” said Ahmed. According to Lulla, members of TAFI after having a first hand experience and also meeting tour operators and hoteliers at the workshop in Jerusalem will be well informed to sell Israel more effectively. Goyal stressed the fact that the members of the Indian delegation, mostly important outbound operators, were very impressed with the infrastructure, roads and peaceful atmosphere in Israel. “They had the opportunity to meet most of the Inbound Tour Operators and also experience for themselves not only the tourism potential of Israel but also the fact that there is absolute peace and the tourists are fully secured. They were able to break the physiological barrier which was prohibiting them for promoting tours to Israel and for this fact alone the TAFI convention played a very historical role,” said Goyal. Chugh also agreed that TAFI Convention will be of great help in promoting Israel as a tourist destination. “TAFI members are going to equally benefit from this Convention as for most of them it was their first visit to Israel,” said Pinto, adding what they saw and experienced was way beyond their expectations. “Israel as a tourist destination is certainly going to benefit from this Convention as our delegates having had their own experience will become brand ambassadors & offer their clients a new destination with new experiences,” said Pinto, concluding, “The convention was overwhelmingly successful. It was a very successful and satisfying Convention in every sense.”

“The feedback received by TaFI post-convention is very positive and encouraging. Israel as a destination was seeing very few footfalls from India and we have now taken a step to correct situation.

President, TAFI

“The recent Convention of
TaFI was one of the best
TaFI conventions I have attended.
It was very well organized; all the delegates were very well looked after.”
President, IATO

“The TaFI convention in Jerusalem was a great success thanks to the efficient handling by TaFI’s handling agents ortras ltd.”
National General Secretary,

“TaFI always believes in being a path-breaker and it was under this principle that it scheduled its annual convention at Jerusalem which has for long been a historical, spiritual and cultural international hub.

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