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Israel to ease visa norms for Indians, open office in Mumbai

Posted on June 26, 2012
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JERUSALEM: With Indians emerging as the largest group of tourists from Asia visiting the Jewish state, Israel is mulling easing visa restrictions in a bid to double the numbers of visitors from India.

The Jewish state is opening a tourist office in Mumbai and invest about $660,000 to attract more visitors from India that has emerged as Israel’s single largest source of incoming tourists in the continent, overtaking South Korea.

Israel’s Tourism Minister, Stas Misezhnikov signed a bilateral agreement with his visiting Indian counterpart Subodh Kant Sahai, aiming at doubling the number of tourists between the two countries in the next three years.

“We are opening an office of the Ministry of Tourism in Mumbai which shows that we give a lot of significance to our relationship with India,” Misezhnikov said addressing a joint press conference with Sahai.

“The potential for enhancing co-operation in the tourism is very good. Now tourist inflow to India from Israel and tourist outflow from India to Israel is equal,” he said, adding about 50,000 Israelis go to India every year and the same number of Indians visit Israel.

“We want to double this number in three years through mutual cooperation.”

Sahai said the two countries have agreed on cooperation in many areas that would help “draw the road map” for promoting tourism in India as well as in Israel.

“We have decided to have a tourism development forum with representation from all stakeholders, including travel agents, hoteliers and tour operators and even friends from the media, who can give advice as to how to promote tourism,” he said.

Outlining the vast opportunity presented by India in the tourism sector, Sahai said “India needs convention centres, exhibition centres and more than 200,000 hotel rooms.”

He also pointed out steps taken by the government to boost investment in the tourism sector by allowing 100 per cent foreign direct investment and declaring it as an infrastructure category sector, which will further enhance bank loan facilities for willing participants in the sector.

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