Interview: Israel on the corona crisis

OTDYKH Leisure team continues to work with partners and clients during the coronavirus crisis. We are undertaking a series of short interviews with international tourism boards on their experience, forecasts, recent updates and tips during forced isolation.

“A crisis always means new opportunities said Mr. Vladimir Shklyar, Director of the Department of the Ministry of Tourism of Israel in the Russian Federation and the CIS, adviser to the Embassy of the state of Israel, in the interview with OTDYKH team. Mr. Shklyar further stated “I look to the future with optimism, Israel is successfully coming out of quarantine. ... Domestic tourism has resumed. I am sure that in 2-3 months we will be able to talk about the return of tourists from other countries, including Russia”. Read the full interview below.

1. How are you feeling today? In what format do you and your colleagues continue to work?

I’m in a great mood, I’m in Jerusalem right now, it’s already summer here. Yesterday on May 21st was a great holiday — Jerusalem Day, and a YouTube live stream was organized for the whole world. I look to the future with optimism, Israel is successfully coming out of quarantine. Parks and nature reserves, museums, shopping centres and markets have already opened. Restaurants are about to open. Regarding work, my team is located in Moscow operating remotely. We are constantly in touch, coordinating current work and actively discussing new ideas and projects.

2. It’s important now not to cut off communication with partners and clients. Could you share your experience with your Russian and international colleagues, how do you continue promoting your destination in a situation where borders are closed?

A crisis always means new opportunities. The important thing is to recognise them. Our whole department switched to working remotely, and I am convinced that this format is no less productive. Right now, for example, we are actively showing our audience future vacation opportunities, preparing an online academy, sharing fresh positive news, inspiring future trips, and planning our activities for the second half of the year.

Of course, we can’t implement our marketing activities in full, but no one is preventing us from communicating with our audience. Just waiting for the pandemic to end by taking a pause is the wrong strategy, in my opinion.

3. Forecasts are now made very carefully, but still... According to your assessment at this time, when do you expect tourist flow recovery, including from Russia?

It really is challenging to make forecasts. But, as I said, we are in a life-affirming mood. Israel is returning to its usual life; tourist sites have already begun to accept tourists according to the new security standards. For example, a special “Purple sign” standard was developed, confirming the possibility of operating hotels and rooms during the coronavirus pandemic. Ben Gurion international airport is already taking preventive measures to combat the infection.

Further steps to restore the tourism sector will depend on the epidemiological situation. So far, domestic tourism has resumed, but I am sure that in 2-3 months we will be able to talk about the return of tourists from other countries, including Russia.

4. One last question. Let’s imagine we are on the verge of ending the pandemic. Where would you personally go immediately after all borders open and transport logistics are restored?

Of course, I already want to return to the team in Moscow. We have a lot of plans for this year, for example, our new advertising campaign “4 seas and Jerusalem”. We have already started working in that direction and can’t wait to realise the project in full. I am sure that both tourists and our partners will see Israel from a new angle!