Israel’s Ministry of Tourism has announced that flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) may offer direct flights from Manila to Tel Aviv starting October.
The announcement was made following a recent discussion between Israel’s delegation and PAL executives.
“This is good news for all Filipinos who have been longing for a spiritual pilgrimage to the Holy Land or a Mediterranean getaway after more than a year of being in lockdown,” PAL said in a statement.
“I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines. Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity. This time Israel has unique advantage as a safe and healthy country. We hope to welcome you soon in Israel,” said Amir Halevi, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.
The airline said it hopes to serve growing demand for air linkages between the Philippines and the Holy Land to serve tourists and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) alike.
PAL Chief Strategy and Planning Officer Dexter Lee said, “The Philippines is a strong source of potential travelers to Israel, which welcomes Filipinos without requiring a visa. Our countrymen have been longing for a direct flight to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages or for a Mediterranean getaway when the travel climate allows. We also look forward to inviting Israelis to visit the Philippines, so our direct flights will help us restart tourism here in our country.”
Philippine passport holders are entitled to a 90-day visa-free access to Israel. An estimated 28,000 Filipinos currently work in Israel, most of whom are based in the neighboring areas of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa.
“Since 2017, we’ve been surpassing our target in terms of the number of Filipinos travelling to Israel. The Philippine market created a foundation for the steady growth in tourism. Visa free is a gift for both countries. Israelis had also taken an interest in visiting the Philippines thru Survivor Israel series. Now they are shooting again another episode in the Philippines,” said Sammy Yahia, Israel’s Ministry of Tourism director for India and the Philippines.
Once the global travel climate improves and restrictions are eased, the planned PAL service will enable Israeli tourists to fly nonstop to Manila and connect to the flag carrier’s domestic route network.
“We welcome the opening of the direct flight that was delayed due to the pandemic. As you know, Filipinos don’t need a visa to visit Israel. Many Israelis are also eager to visit the Philippines and go to Boracay and Palawan. It symbolizes the very closed, historic, and friendly relations between our two countries. It will facilitate conducting business, investments and will strengthen the people-to-people contacts,” Israel Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said.
Data from the Ministry of Tourism showed that the number of Filipino tourists who visited Israel reached 34,100 in 2019.