An unsuspecting tourist from Romania made history on Tuesday by becoming tourist number 3 million to arrive in Israel this year, receiving a surprise package including a private tour by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Ioana Isac, 31, together with her partner, Mihai Georgescu, arrived on a Wizz Air flight from Bucharest in Romania.
As she passed through customs and into the arrivals halls Isac was greeted with, balloons, flowers, and a red carpet laid out with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin waiting at the end of it.
The minister presented Isac with a certificate to mark the occasion after which the couple were whisked away in a limousine to enjoy a holiday bonuses that included an upgraded hotel suite, a visit to the Dead Sea, a helicopter flight, and dinner with Israeli chef Nir Tzuk.
However, first stop was the Tower of David museum in the Old City of Jerusalem where he apologized profusely because the guide had failed to arrive. A replacement was quickly rustled up, who turned out to be none other than Netanyahu.
An overwhelmed Isac apologized for only being casually dressed.
Netanyahu stepped up to show the visitors around the ancient fort that can trace its foundations back to the Second Temple Period in the first century BCE.
“This is a special day and an historic milestone as we break the 3-million- tourist barrier and set a new all-time record,” Levin said in a statement. “We are set to end the year with an amazing achievement, the likes of which have never been reached since the establishment of the State.”
In an interview with Channel 12 News, Isac, who works as a makeup artist, explained that the couple chose to holiday in Israel because they wanted somewhere “warm and sunny” to celebrate Georgescu’s birthday, which falls on Wednesday.
“I am living my dream right now, here in Israel,” she said and revealed she didn’t ask her auspicious tour guide — Netanyahu — too many questions because she had not been expecting to meet the prime minister.
“The experience was amazing,” she said.
By the end of November 2016, 2,651,400 tourists had visited Israel the Tourism Ministry said at the time.
According to Tourism Ministry figures in the period January-October 2017, 63,000 tourists arrived from Romania, up from the 40,100 in the same period last year, an increase of 57 percent In 2015 the figure was 37,400.
The leading sources of incoming tourists are the USA, Russia, France, Germany and Britain.
Wizz Air is a budget airline that over the past year has opened several routes to and from European destinations flying to Tel Aviv and Ovda, near Eilat in the south of the country.