Israeli travelers continue to rank the U.S. as their preferred travel destination. The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics reported a record of 3.6 million air departures by Israelis in 2008. In September 2009 Israel ranked 16th on the U.S. Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI) list of Top Twenty Tourist-Generating Countries. OTTI has also recorded a 6% growth in the number of Israeli travelers to the United States between 2007-2008, with 332,257 entries. The majority of Israelis who travel to the United States are business travelers, though considerable numbers of individuals, tour groups and families also visit the U.S. The average expense per person per day in the U.S. is approximately $200 including accommodations, meals and shopping (not including airfare). Industry experts report over $1 billion in expenditure per year by Israelis within the U.S. on travel-related services, not including airfare.
El Al Israel Airlines, Continental Airlines, U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines operate 8-10 daily, direct flights from Tel Aviv to New York, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Most European airlines offer competitive prices and routes to the U.S. via Europe.
Over 500 travel agents and about 20 tour operators work in the Israeli outbound travel market. This market is fast-paced and extremely competitive. Operators and airlines advertise special packages and seasonal deals on an almost daily basis, especially around the July-August summer vacation and the Jewish holidays in September, October and April. Tour operators specialize in market segments rather than in specific destinations, and most operators are conservative in selecting new travel products.
U.S. passenger service companies, travel attractions, restaurants, outlet shopping and family travel destinations may find opportunities in Israel, especially by offering new travel products and a high level of services. Best prospects are in family vacations, ecotours, charter deals to major cities including special sports or cultural events, and business travel to major trade shows, combined with sightseeing.