MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Israel met to discuss bilateral cooperation in tourism, joint efforts to further increase tourist arrivals and the possibility of Manila-Tel Aviv direct flights.

The Philippine embassy in Tel Aviv said Ambassador to Israel Pedro Laylo Jr. and Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz were pleased to note the surging number of tourists from each other’s countries.

Citing Department of Tourism data, the embassy said 10,312 Israeli tourists visited the Philippines from January to August 2023. This surpassed the 9,711 recorded for the whole of 2022.

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s statistics showed that Filipinos visiting the Holy Land from January to August 2023 reached 22,800, exceeding the 22,500 total of 2022.

“As such, two-way tourism between the Philippines and Israel for this period is already at 33,112, beating last year’s total of 32,200,” the embassy said.

To sustain this momentum, Laylo proposed that chartered test flights be initially launched before deciding to launch regular direct flights in 2024.

“I am confident that the test flights will be fully booked by Israeli tourists flying to their dream Philippine vacations, and by Filipino pilgrims en route to Tel Aviv and other Holy Land destinations,” Laylo said.

He said the cargo hold will also be filled to the brim by Philippine products in high demand in Israel such as pineapples and sweet mangoes.

The ambassador invited Katz to visit the Philippines before the year ends to meet Tourism Secretary Christina Frasco, sign the Philippines-Israel Tourism agreement and hold a dialogue with Philippine Airlines on the possibility of direct flights.

Katz accepted the invitation, saying he intends to see for himself what the Philippines wants to show Israeli tourists.

2023-09-18T16:44:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd