The El Al Qantas codeshare announcement, made at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce tourism lunch at the Star, was greeted with enthusiasm by the panelists.
John O’Sullivan, Managing Director of Tourism Australia, said: ‘We’re very excited about it because of the fact that there’s a direct correlation between aviation capacity and visitation. It’s exciting news because there’s such a good connection between the two countries. They’re the type of visitors we want coming to Australia.’
Currently, Israeli tourists are a relatively small market for Australia, with only about 14,000 visitors to this country from Israel last year. But that should change. As panel moderator and Senior Lecturer in Tourism at UTS Business School, David Bierman said: ‘I know that the number of Israelis who travel is not only immense but I hear Hebrew spoken in places like Hanoi, Seoul, Bangkok, Chiangmai, wherever I go in Asia. If they can get that far, it’s not too much further to get to Australia.’
Bierman also made the comment that, as the former Director of the Israeli government tourism office based in Australia, the El Al Qantas partnership was exactly the kind of thing that he had been active in trying to achieve because the easier it is to access a destination, the more likely people are to come and visit it.
Those attending the event learned that Australian tourism is doing twice as well as the global average, and that tourism is both a facilitator and generator of business. They were told that tourism is the third largest business in the world and that it is more than just about making money; it’s about building bridges between people.
In thanking the panelists, AICC NSW CEO, Michelle Blum, talked about the Chamber’s involvement in building those bridges: ‘Nationally, the Chamber has taken over 30 business delegations to Israel this year, and we are hosting Israeli businesses coming here looking for business partners every week.’