Israel and India signed an agreement on Sunday aiming to significantly increase bilateral tourism numbers over the next several years.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and Indian counterpart Subogh Kant Sahai met in Jerusalem and inked a deal taking steps to encourage travel between their countries, including easing visa restrictions for Indians wanting to visit Israel.
Some 40,000 Indians already visit Israel each year, which is about the same number of Israelis who travel to the subcontinent. The officials would like to see those numbers doubled in three years.
Misezhnikov announced that Israel will train more Hindi-speaking guides and will build 200,000 new hotel rooms to accommodate visitors from the subcontinent. He also said new flights from Israel would be launched to Indian destinations including New Delhi, Goa and Calcutta.
“The potential for enhancing co-operation in the tourism is very good. Currently, tourist inflow to India from Israel and tourist outflow from India to Israel is equal,” he said.
The Tourism Ministry also announced plans to invest $660,000 in opening a tourist office in Mumbai this year, “which shows that we give a lot of significance to our relationship with India,” according to Misezhnikov.
India recently surpassed South Korea as the single largest source of incoming Asian tourists to Israel.
While in the country, Sahai also attended an unveiling ceremony of a bust of Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore at Hebrew University.