The theme of sustainability is central to a country like Israel, as Kalanot Goren, director of Israel's National Tourist Office, tells us.
What actions have you taken to make tourism sustainable in Israel?
Sustainability: a word that really seems to coincide with Israel. There are many points in our favour. Israel is a young country, established in 1948, and is, therefore, structured and designed with modern, resource-conserving facilities.
Israel is also a decidedly cosmopolitan country. There are many different ethnic groups from all over the world, each with their own needs. Israel has been able to meet the cultural, nutritional and social needs of everyone. Israel is the start-up nation, the country of research. And a large part of this research is directed towards sustainability.
A few examples: there are water recycling and purification basins in the Negev desert and Israel is the only country in the world that manages to reuse over 70% of its wastewater.
Israel also has examples of over 90% recycling: see the example of Kibbutz Qtura!
The Parks experience is unique and unrepeatable in Israel!
This is a dimension that is still little known in Italy: but outdoor tourism is quite common and known especially for those who come from Northern Europe and in full respect of nature.
How do you protect the land and its traditions and how does this interact with tourism?
Land protection in Israel takes place through two key bodies:
SPNI, the Society for the Protection of Nature, and the Parks Authority (https://natureisrael.org/) and the Parks Authority (https://en.parks.org.il/).
These two historic institutions monitor nature preservation by promoting new outdoor tourism activities. These range from “archaeological excavation” experiences to educational activities for schools to trekking and active tourism experiences alongside experts and guides.
The Kibbutz, in a way, are also nature preservation farms and have evolved into agro-tourism farms.
Some of them, such as Kibbutz Lotan or Qetura, offer exceptional experiences alongside nature.
Let us not forget that thanks to the activity of the KKL, the number of trees in the territory has doubled since the founding of the State of Israel.
Have you taken steps to address the evolved and aware traveller?
During these two years, Israel has tried to take care of its travellers, without neglecting any dimension.
For this reason, even when it was still closed, Israel started a pilot program to allow organised groups to arrive, through a control activity and above all support from the Ministry.
Israel is now open and anyone can enter: as long as they are vaccinated and have health insurance, and of course after having taken the required swab.
What is the forecast for summer 2022?
We cannot speak of “large” numbers: but we certainly have requests and above all information from some Tour Operators, especially those linked to the spirituality dimension, who are currently organising, including new contents, such as the possibility of organising spirituality experiences within the Parks.
2021 final balance: how did it go?
We can’t talk about numbers, but certainly about attentiveness.
We have done a great job in terms of communication, we have increased our number of social media, we have worked on new content, also related to sustainability and the outdoors.
Now we are ready to start again with BIT, an appointment that Israel has never cancelled since BIT has existed.