Three Quarters of Israelis Traveled Abroad, Poll Shows

A passenger waiting by his luggage in the departure hall at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)
A passenger waiting with his luggage in the departure hall at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. (Flash90)

Israelis have the travel bug – and even a substantial number of those considered “needy” manage to get out of town once in awhile. A poll by the Tourism Ministry indicates that nearly three quarters of Israelis traveled abroad at least once in the last two years, while one out of three have been abroad three times during that period. More than half were abroad twice in the past two years.

Of those who had been abroad three or more times in the past two years for purposes other than business, 17 percent said that their annual income was “below average.” It is not clear if they actually earned less than the average Israelis, or just told pollsters that they weren’t as wealthy as other people. Industry experts attributed the phenomena to low prices on flights that have prevailed in recent years to destinations like Cypus and Greece.

While the travel agent profession has largely been a victim of the internet, Israel remains a good place for those working in the industry; 79 percent of Israelis who traveled abroad bought tickets either directly from a travel agent or on a website operated by a specific travel agency (not an airline or an online aggregator) in the past two years. 56 percent of those who traveled booked a hotel via a travel agent.

The poll was commissioned by the Israel Travel Agents Association, and Chani Sobol, head of the organization, said that she was pleased with the results. “This poll shows that travel agents are here to stay. The huge amount of information that travelers can glean from online searches is intimidating, along with the increased threats to travelers around the world, are the impetus for travelers seeking to work with a human being who will provide them with caring and professional service.”