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Can the Chinese save Israel's tourism industry?

As security concerns continue to weaken the Israeli tourism sector, Israel's Tourism Ministry is investing heavily in efforts to expand its still nascent Chinese market.

From his office in Jerusalem, Uri Taub is "dealing with half of humanity," as he describes it in a conversation with Al-Monitor. As director of the Asia and Pacific Marketing Desk at the Tourism Office Marketing Administration, he is in charge of Asia and countries where there is no Israeli diplomatic representation. He's responsible for marketing Israel to countries such as India (1.25 billion potential clients) or China (1.36 billion potential clients).

China is considered the holy grail of international tourism. The middle class there is flourishing, and as it gets financially stronger, it adopts Western tourism habits. “The number of Chinese tourists worldwide has grown from just a few million individuals to about 120 million in 2015,” said Taub. Obviously, Israel wants a slice of that pie. It has been trying for years to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting the country. Current Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said back in 2015 that “almost nothing was done” about the issue in the years before he took office.

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