DIRECT flights between the Philippines and Israel should be pursued for two-way tourism traffic between the two countries to grow.
Israel Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau said the Philippine government should address accesibility issues for tourists on both sides.
“Tourism is one of the most promising areas of cooperation with the Philippines. It is a natural link with Filipinos who are very keen on going to the Holy Land and Israelis, who are, by nature, nature lovers and ecotourists. We have to develop it. Our challenge is to create a bridge between our countries through direct flights,” Matityau said.
Matityau added that more than 100 Philippine travel agencies have already engaged in Israel familiarization tours and that they are also expecting an Israeli TV project to feature the Philippines in one of its shows.
The Israeli ambassador also said that wrong notions about a country can hinder tourism growth and prevent tourists from having the experience in their visits.
“We have to remove psychological barriers. We both suffer from bad image. Israel, because of the Middle East conflict, and Philippines, with the so-called image of Mindanao. In both cases, it is false,” Matityau said.
He added: “You have to really put it into consideration how you promote a country. We have to discern between the noise and the voice. You have 8 million people in Israel calling it home and I do not think you hear from them crisis all the time,” Matityau said.
Matityau in describing Israel said their country is a combination of beautiful landscape and man-made scape, incredible cultures with 100 different communities, along with a thriving food and wine culture.
He also said Israel is a mix of old and new, while restating that Israel is the promised land and the land of many promises.
The Israeli Embassy, together with the Quezon City government and QCX, recently showcased a five-minute audio-video presentation dubbed “Open Doors,” detialing the plight of 1,300 Israelis escaping from the Nazis in Germany to the Philippines.
Matityau said the Philippines welcoming Israeli Jews into the country showed how Filipinos are very much willing to make the right decision during a difficult time in history.
“It shows something about the heart of the Philippines. When we talk about the story of [former President] Manuel L. Quezon, we are talking about a very strong moral compass, which was very difficult to execute,” he said.