Within less than a year, the Tourism Ministry brought SAS to announce their return to operations in Israel, with a direct flight Stockholm-Eilat beginning in the Winter season 2017.
The Tourism Ministry announces, in cooperation with the Swedish airline SAS, that the company will return its operations to Israel with a direct flight from Stockholm to Eilat, within the framework of the Tourism Ministry’s “Winter flights directive”. The new route will operate from the upcoming winter season (2017/8).
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin: “I welcome the decision of SAS to operate a direct flight from Stockholm to Eilat. The decision was made with the cooperation and due to the encouragement and support of the Tourism Ministry. We have set ourselves the goal of bringing new direct routes to Israel and we are indeed witnessing an exceptional momentum of airlines flying into Israel and bringing with them record numbers of tourists.
“SAS joins the many new airlines which are operating in Israel – only recently, as a result of the activities of the Tourism Ministry with the airlines, the following companies announced the opening of new routes: WOW, Ryanair, Wizz Air, Hainan Airlines and Air India. We warmly welcome the Swedish tourists who will once again return to Eilat, thanks to the new route, and will enjoy an attractive tourism destination, especially in the winter season.”
SAS Sales Manager Sweden Anders Wahlström: “Eilat is located on the Red Sea in Israel’s south coast and offers everything from white sandy beaches to spectacular hotels and nightlife. This is a city that has attracted visitors for decades. We see that more and more people want to travel with us to warmer destinations in the winter.”
Incoming tourism increased 24% in the first quarter 2017 on the same period in 2016. The Tourism Ministry attaches importance to investing in expanding direct flights in the winter season from Europe into Israel in general and Eilat in particular and sees potential for significant increases in these tourists.
When the company announced it was ceasing its operations in Israel in March 2016, the Tourism Ministry took significant steps to encourage them to reinstate the direct route. Within the framework of ongoing negotiations since June, the ministry held a significant round of meetings, including a meeting between the Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi in Sweden with senior SAS representatives working on opening new routes. It was decided that SAS would join the directive offered by the Tourism Ministry for opening new direct flights to Eilat from Europe in the winter season. As part of the directive, airlines receive a 45 Euro subsidy per passenger from the Tourism Ministry and an additional 15 Euro from the Eilat Hotels Association.
The Tourism Ministry is also working with the leading bodies in the local tourism industry and the successful Two Cities, One Break” advertising campaign is running in Europe, including Sweden. The investment in Sweden in a campaign that presents Israel as a legitimate and attractive tourism destination has changed the opinion of the public and the industry and instilled a sense of confidence, security and genuine partnership in the company’s decision to take this new path. All this, in order to expand and increase the number of Swedish tourists visiting Israel.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)