One of the conference participants was Diego Lofeudo, Director of Market Management for Eastern Med and Africa on the travel reservation website, Expedia.
Lofeudo said in an interview with Israel National News TV that he believes Israel is a great tourist attraction, but unfortunately not enough people are aware of this fact.
“It’s hard to discover, it’s nice when you find it, but tourists don’t have time to get to love you and you need to help them get to love you,” he said.
Lofeudo suggested that Israel simply has to let people know about all the great things it features. “Open your doors,” he said. “Make sure that people worldwide know about what you have here: tourists, culture, attractions, food – the food here is great.”
He added that there are “3,000 years of culture in the lovely walls of Jerusalem, you have a thriving nightlife in Tel Aviv but people don’t know. Customers online are continuously searching for what to do and they are open to discover new places. We need to make sure they find Israel.”
According to Lofeudo, accomplishing this simply requires a change in the mindset of Israel’s travel industry. He noted that the strengths of the local travel industry lie in Bar Mitzvah tours or pilgrimage visits, but that the independent traveler must also be reached out to.
“The independent traveler, who has none of those liaisons with a potential trip, is looking for food, wine, experience, places to go to like the Dead Sea – he might not even know what the Dead Sea is all about,” he said. “We need to make Israel discoverable and bookable online by investing in branding for the country and for its destinations.”
Expedia began featuring Israel on its website about six years ago, and in the last year along has achieved about $60 million in bookings for Israel. Lofeudo said, however, that way much more can be achieved.
“We need to take it to the next level and the next level is the country investing itself into branding Israel in the online environment.”