Report: Chinese Firm Seeks to Buy Israeli Hotel Chain

YERUSHALAYIM -
China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (REUTERS)
China’s President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (Reuters)

A Chinese firm is seeking to buy an Israeli hotel chain, sources in the government told Globes. The firm’s interest in Israel  comes after an “explosion” of Chinese tourism to Israel. In 2015, 45,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel, while by August of this year, over 50,000 had arrived, with many more scheduled to visit by the end of the year. The name of the chains under consideration were not disclosed.

The dramatic rise in tourism is credited to the opening of direct flights between Israel and China, and the easing of rules on issuing visas to Chinese tourists. Tourism officials had expected 100,000 Chinese tourists to visit Israel in 2017, but that number appears to be conservative now, they said.

According to government numbers, one-third of high-tech investments in 2015 were made by Chinese investors. Last week, a major Chinese economic delegation visited Israel, with 15 new trade, cooperation and research agreements signed between the two governments, along with dozens of deals on investments between private sector companies. Among those deals is one to build a new soccer stadium in Bat Yam, a project to be undertaken by China Machinery Engineering.

A major agricultural research agreement was signed as well, with Israeli companies participating in the establishment of a new biotech, agritech and health research center to be built in the Chinese city of Chengdou. In 2015 some 28 Chinese individuals and venture capital funds invested in Israeli high-tech firms, compared to 22 in 2014 and 15 in 2013.

According to the Israel Export Institute, trade between Israel and China in 2014, the latest year for which figures are available, was over $11 billion, with $3.5 billion of that exports from Israel to China. Eli Groner, head of the Prime Minister’s Office, said that those numbers show the “important development of Israel’s opening to the East. The Chinese believe that we have unbeatable technology and agricultural capabilities, and they come here to learn from us. For us, this is a golden opportunity to open up the Chinese market to Israeli entrepreneurs and firms.”