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Tourism has connected Indonesians and Israelis

"People on both sides will pay the price of this banning," said Hanny Sobol.

09 Juni 2018 03:20

As there is no diplomatic relationship between two countries, tourism is one of the tool that has connected Indonesian people and Israelis.

But unfortunately, political issues have jeopardize this kind of people to people contact. Since mid of May, the govenrment of Indonesia started to ban Israeli visitors. This ban imposed as a reaction against the killing of Palestinian peaceful demonstrators along the Gaza border with Israel.

Two week later, Israel take similar policy. But then they temporarily lift the ban during June 7-27. After that, it depends on Indonesians. If they continue the ban, Israel will also impose it again.

Hanny Sobol, the head of Israel Tourism and Travel Agents Association (ITTAA), sorries about those latest developments. "Both countries miss an opportunity to bridge conflict instead the travel agents and the tourists paying for political issues. People on both sides will pay the price of this banning," she said in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via WhatsApp on Thursday.

Excerpts:   

How is your response on banning imposed by both countries, Indonesia and Israel?

ITTAA believes that tourism is behind politics. Tourism is the bridge between countries' cultures.

Do you surprise with these latest developments?

ITTAA welcomes Indonesian tourists and we hope that both countries will open the gate for mutual tourism.

How many Indonesian tourists travel to Israel each year?

According to latest news articles, at least 30,000 each year.

And how many Israeli tourists come to Indonesia yearly?

Not many because only Israelis with foreign pasposrts can get a visa or those who invited for business.

Are you disappointed with the banning?

It's not a matter to disappoinment. Both countries miss an opportunity to bridge conflict instead the travel agents and the tourists paying for political issues. People on both sides will pay the price of this banning.

Before the ban imposed, is there any improvement of people to people contact and understanding?

Sure. When people visit our country, see the holy land and our beatuiful sites, meet Israeli people, a closeness is created. And of course that vise versa.

But why until now muslim communities in Indonesia still hate Israel and Jews?

That's a question that you should ask your people.

What is the most favorite place for Indonesia visitors?

Jerusalem of course.

And what about for Israelis who travel to Indonesia?

Bali, Jakarta. Most of Israelis take a guided tour.

How much the lost of Israeli travel agents because of the ban imposed by both countries?

They estimate it as US$ 2-3 millions.

A day or a whole?

A whole.

How may travel agents in Israel that serve Indonesia visitors?

I don't know.    

As the head of ITTAA, do ypu put a request to your government to lift ban for Indonesian tourists?

Yes.

What is their response?

That it should be mutual. As you probably know, Indonesia started the ban.

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