MANILA - Philippine Airlines and Israel's delegation discussed the possibility of offering direct flights from Manila to Tel Aviv with the flag carrier revealing plans to start in October 2021, the Embassy of Israel in Manila said Tuesday.
Nonstop flights between Manila and Tel Aviv would be a "game changer," Israel Ministry of Tourism director general Amir Halevi said.
"I am pleased to give this important first step to the tourism industry between Israel and the Philippines. Direct flights between our two capitals will be a game-changer for tourism and business connectivity. This time Israel has a unique advantage as a safe and healthy country. We hope to welcome you soon in Israel!," Halevi said.
Philippine Airlines earlier said is "working on plans to mount nonstop flights to and from Tel Aviv."
PAL said it planned to cater to the growing demand for travel to the Holy Land for spiritual pilgrimages, overseas Filipino workers as well as Israelis planning to visit the Philippines.
Philippine passport holders are entitled to a 90-day visa-free access to Israel. Around 28,000 Filipinos currently work in Israel, most are based Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa, the embassy said.
The visa-free access is a "gift for both countries," said Israel Ministry of Tourism director for India and the Philippines Sammy Yahia. Israelis have taken interest in the country through the Survivor Israel series which is shooting another episode in the Philippines again, he said.
Israel is gradually opening its borders to international tourism after successfully controlling COVID-19, starting with vaccinated tour groups from May 23 and for individual tourists as early as July, the embassy said.
At least 34,100 Filipino tourists traveled to Israel in 2019, up 30 percent since they opened an office in Manila in 2017, data showed.