Surge in travel to Israel predicted by head of Luton Airport

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Surge in travel to Israel predicted by head of Luton Airport

Alberto Martin exclusively tells JN that Tel Aviv 'could be a destination of choice for frequent travellers' amid pent-up demand and roaring vaccine programmes in the UK and Israel

Tel Aviv's famous promenade, soaked in sun
Tel Aviv's famous promenade, soaked in sun

The head of London Luton Airport (LLA) has predicted a surge in travel to Israel from both Jewish and non-Jewish travellers this summer and well into 2022, as sun-seekers look for alternatives to European destinations.

Speaking exclusively to Jewish News, Alberto Martin, chief executive of LLA since 2018, said: “Although in 2021 we do not see capacity to Israel returning to its 2019 peak, the recovery on the Tel Aviv route will be faster and stronger than other routes due to significant pent-up demand and the respective successful vaccine roll-outs in both the UK and Israel.” 

Martin said there was likely to be a substantial demand from the mix of leisure, visiting friends and family and business travel on the London Luton-Tel Aviv route, on which 500,000 passengers travelled in 2019. 

“Over 60 percent of the traffic in 2019 was people visiting friends and relatives. This section of the market is likely to rebound fast with people booking trips to visit loved ones, whom they may not have seen for a long time. 

Alberto Martin

“Leisure travel accounted for the majority of the rest of the traffic, which again is likely to be strong helped by the vaccine situation. As a year-round destination, Tel Aviv could become a destination of choice for the frequent traveller looking for something different.”

There are fears in the UK that holidays to Europe this summer could be impossible amid a third wave hitting the continent. Fines of £5,000 for anyone taking a non-essential journey will become law next week. 

Last month, Israeli health minister Yuli Edelstein told ITV’s Peston that the country hoped to open up its borders to UK tourists this summer, so long as they have been vaccinated. Currently Greece is the only country with which Israel has a travel agreement.

The UK government has urged people to wait to book foreign travel until the global task force reports on 12 April, though Boris Johnson now hopes to offer further information on 5 April on when and how to resume safe international travel after 17 May. 

Head of the Israel government tourist office in UK, Sharon Ehrlich Bershadsky, said: “I agree with what Martin said, and also believe the Tel Aviv route will bounce back nicely once travel will return. 2019 was a record year for us with an ever growing interest from the public, trade and media and I’m optimistic about the ‘day after’.”

Israel is tiny in size, but massive in what it offers its visitors, Within a two-hour drive of Tel Aviv, you can experience the green, rolling hills of the Galilee; the lowest spot on earth at the Dead Sea; or even desert landscapes in the Negev, there is truly no such other destination like that in the whole world.”

  • Full interview with Alberto Martin in next week’s Business pages

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