tourism poster370. (photo credit: courtesy)
The number of Chinese tourists entering Israel is beginning to recover after a steep decline earlier this year, based on the latest figures from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.
Some 8,400 Chinese tourists traveled to Israel last month, compared to 9,200 in September of last year. From January through September of this year, 73,900 tourists from China visited Israel–an eight percent decrease over the same period last year, but a 38% rise over 2016. Overall, Chinese travel to the Holy Land has more than doubled since 2015, with some 114,000 people from the Asian country visiting Israel last year.
However, in the beginning of 2018 the number of Chinese travelers dropped sharply when the Chinese government issued a travel advisory following the United States’ announcement that it would relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last December. The Tourism Ministry also attributed the slight decrease to the ongoing unrest along the Gaza-Israel border.
The Tourism Ministry expects this trend to reverse by the end of the year, thanks to new direct flight routes between Israel and China, as well as an Israeli government marketing initiative targeting Chinese travelers.
“China is a growing market,” Sofia Prizant-Pinkas, director of the Asian Department at the Ministry of Tourism, told The Media Line. “Chinese outbound tourism is growing every year so it’s a strategic market for Israel and for others.
“A few years ago, we understood that we have to be fitted for Chinese tourists in order for them to feel welcome,” Prizant-Pinkas affirmed, noting the ministry is pushing for more Mandarin-speaking tour guides, as well as providing Israeli chefs with training on how to cater to the Chinese palate.
Others working in the tourism sector, like Dragon Trail Interactive—a digital marketing agency geared towards the Chinese travel sector—also noted rising interest among the Chinese for trips to Israel.
“There’s been a significant increase in Chinese tourism to destinations all over the world in the last 10-15 years,” Roy Graff, managing director in Europe, Africa and Middle East for Dragon Trail Interactive, told The Media Line. “It has been really good in Israel.”
Chinese tourists visit Israel primarily for three reasons: to explore Tel Aviv’s thriving hi-tech scene; to see landmarks like the Dead Sea, and to tour Jerusalem’s holy sites.
“Although we just arrived, I feel that Jerusalem has a very long history, similar to that of our people,” Meng Linjun, a tourist from Beijing with Genesis Tours, told The Media Line. While standing at the entrance to the Old City, he added: “The Chinese people also have a very long history so we would like to learn more about the story of Israel.”
Meng and his partner, Jiao Feng Yuan, were on a sightseeing tour of Jerusalem’s most popular sites. They visited the Mount of Olives and Yad Vashem (Israel’s national holocaust memorial), among other sites.
“I’ve traveled to many places but this country is unlike any other I’ve been to,” Jiao declared. “The ancient history is something I find particularly interesting. Jewish history goes back thousands of years, so I’m fascinated with that aspect and also with the return of the Jewish people to Israel in modern times.”
Part of the increase in Chinese tourism to Israel is due to a growing number of Christians in China. Christianity is reportedly the fastest-growing religion there and some estimate that by 2030 the country could be the largest Christian nation (with 247 million adherents). In recent years, President Xi Jingping’s government has begun to crack down on the religion, with authorities demolishing unofficial churches and removing crosses. The Chinese Communist Party has declared atheism China’s official state religion.
“We see more and more Christian people coming to Israel,” Re’em Raizner, CEO of Shin Luxury Tours, told The Media Line. “Christianity is spreading in China and Chinese Christians find Israel a very interesting place to visit.”
Tour guides working around Israel agreed that Christian pilgrims make up a significant portion of those making the voyage to the Holy Land.
“I have many different kinds of groups: some are Christian pilgrims, some just really love the Jewish people so they come to show us their support, and others come for business,” Terry Melnikov, an independent tour guide, conveyed to The Media Line. “Many Chinese believe that Israelis are smart and that we possess some knowledge they can benefit from.”
Tour operators also attribute the growing tourism to recently opened direct flight routes between the two countries. Last August, Hainan Airlines announced a new route between Guangzhou and Tel Aviv, on top of already existing routes between Beijing, Shanghai and Israel. In September, Sichuan Airlines launched a new direct route, which greatly shortens travel times and is part of the Israeli government’s campaign to encourage incoming Chinese tourism.
Overall, Israel is experiencing a record-breaking year in the tourism sector, with more than 2.9 million visitors to the country from January to September, a 15% increase over the same period last year. Tourism generates billions of dollars for the Israeli economy. And with the help of Chinese tourists, this number is likely to reach even more dizzying heights in years to come.
We all know that the midterm elections are different this time around. They are usually like “all politics,” namely local. But this time around they’re different. They are all presidential, all about Trump, as most everything is. And for the anti-Trump crowd — I’m talking about the political commentators and “analysts” — any and all things bad are held to be Trump’s fault. This is presumably because they believe that their condemnations of Trump will result in a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives.
A new book explores how graffiti artists in Beirut skirt limitations on expression to share political criticism in the streets.
A photograph of the book “Drawing Lines” by Tamara Zantout, taken at the launch of the book at Beit Beirut cultural center, Beirut, Lebanon, Oct. 25, 2018.
BEIRUT — Beirut’s alleyways and streets are peppered in bright, detailed and provocative graffiti. Street artists use the medium, which exists in a legal grey area, to express their identity and give voice to political frustrations.
On Tuesday, San Francisco will become the largest city in the nation to allow noncitizens to vote, and the city has spent $310,000 on a “new registration system” specifically aimed at illegals. As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, the plan is the first in the state and follows Proposition N, a 2016 ballot measure allowing votes by noncitizens over the age of 18, reside in the city, and have children under age 19.
By the count of the Chronicle, only 49 noncitizens have signed up to vote on Tuesday, which works out to $6,326 for every illegal voter, but there’s more to the story. City officials are worried that voting could expose illegals to ICE, who might come looking and possibly deport somebody. So supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, a backer of Proposition N, urged the city to spend $500,000 to warn the illegals.
At first Sabbath service after massacre, shooting survivors are blessed; rabbi says to those who condemned Trump’s visit: ‘No one tells me how to welcome a guest in my own home’
On November 3, 2018, a joint communal Shabbat prayer service at Pittsburgh’s Beth Shalom Conservative synagogue following the massacre a week prior which saw 11 Jewish community members killed. (Amanda Borschel-Dan/Times of Israel)
PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania — A week after an anti-Semitic shooter massacred 11 worshipers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, the community embraced each other in prayer on Saturday.
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.” He sees this trend creating a surge in “xenophobic populism.” Writing in Politico, Katy O’Donnell agrees: “Nationalist parties now have a toehold everywhere from Italy to Finland, raising fears the continent is backpedaling toward the kinds of policies that led to catastrophe in the first half of the 20th century.” Jewish leaders like Menachem Margolin, head of the European Jewish Association, sense “a very real threat from populist movements across Europe.”
IS EUROPE RETURNING to the horrors of the 1930s? In an assessment typical of the moment, Max Holleran writes in the New Republic that “in the past ten years, new right-wing political movements have brought together coalitions of Neo-Nazis with mainstream free-market conservatives, normalizing political ideologies that in the past rightly caused alarm.”
We’ve been told for a long time that the ceasefire is on the way. It had many names in the past, such as tahdiah, hudna, and most recently—”an arrangement.” On Friday, once again, reports started emerging that an agreement has been reached. Several hours later, southern Israel was hit with a barrage of rockets. What happened?
And He said, “You will not be able to see My face, for No Human Being shall see Me and live.” — Shemot 33:20
Faith is deeper than knowledge. While scientific data is absorbed only in the brain, faith permeates all parts of the human personality. Nothing is untouched, all spiritual limbs quiver, and everything is transformed. It is thus more difficult to acquire faith than knowledge, and faith has a more radical effect on the human being.
A Catholic archbishop recently touched on an unspoken but highly subversive phenomenon: How anti-Christian forces exploit Christian teachings to empower those who seek to dismantle Christian civilization, Muslims being chief among them.
In an interview published last summer by the Italian outlet IlGionarle.it, Catholic Archbishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan said:
The King of Jordan, not some lowly clerk, announced that Jordan will not extend the currently existing leases renting two parcels of land to Israel. One is the so-called Island of Peace in the northern Naharayim area and the other located in the southern Arava, near Tzofar, an agricultural cooperative village (moshav). Jordan was entirely within its rights to decide not to renew the leases