Tel Aviv unveils its first Tourism Master Plan

Target markets include the untapped MICE segment

Tel Aviv: mostly beachfront hotel accommodation. Credit: Tel Aviv Yafo Municipality, Barak Brinker

TEL AVIV - The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has launched its first Tourism Master Plan to make the city one of the most popular urban destinations in the world by 2030.

This plan identifies target audiences, envisions the tourist attractions yet to be established in the city, assesses the existing tourism complexes and those to be opened, and the strategies to enable the tourism industry to flourish.

In 2019, Israel welcomed a record number of 4.9 million tourists, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2018. In order to house these tourists, 783 hotel rooms were added in Tel Aviv in 2019, totaling 11,170 rooms in the city.

Ten new airlines added flights to Israel, bringing a total of 140 airlines with direct flights to Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv's niche markets include vacation travel, city breaks (vacations during which the tourists stay in the same city), visits with friends and family, and business tourism. Each one of these market segments accounts for about 25 per cent of all tourists in the city.

As these target markets continue to grow, the city will be reaching out to the untapped MICE market. It aims to host large international conferences, trade shows and exhibitions. To achieve that goal, the Municipality established an International Convention Bureau in 2018. It was the first collaboration of its kind between the Greater Tel Aviv Hotels Association, Expo Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv Global & Tourism.

In 2018, and for the first time, China made the list of Tel Aviv's 10 most important source markets. Increased efforts will be made to customise the Tel Aviv tourism product to the unique characteristics of the Chinese market, including the adoption of China Ready service quality standards by tour operators in the city.

Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality director of media and communications, Mr Eytan Schwartz, said: "The work on the Master Plan included an in-depth examination and analysis of the city from a tourism perspective. We carefully assessed our assets and advantages, but were also unwavering in confronting the challenges and flaws. Above all, we refined Tel Aviv's unique DNA as a tourist destination that rests on three firm pillars: the ancient city - Old Jaffa - which is our main attraction; the new city - Tel Aviv - which is characterised by phenomenal urban vitality; and, of course, the beach - with its extraordinary qualities."

Some of the challenges facing the city are high hotel rates. The average price per night for a hotel room in 2018 was US$210 with an average occupancy rate of 74 per cent compared to the national average of 62 per cent. The vast majority of the hotels in Tel Aviv are located near the beach.

Other problems include hotel manpower shortage, the lack of international hotel chains, and overregulation. The Master Plan has recommended that hotels and lodging become a strategic priority of the Tel Aviv Municipality in the coming decade. It has recommended accelerating the construction of new hotels by advancing land use plans that include hotels, expediting the issue of permits, and converting office buildings into hotels.

In 2019, Tel Aviv celebrated 100 years of Bauhaus with the opening of the city's official White City Center; the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation established its Israeli Innovation Center; The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History opened its doors; and Bloomfield Stadium, after extensive renovations.

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