Israel already is experiencing record numbers of incoming tourists. During September and October, another 8,300 have been arriving on “incentive trips” from TransAmerica insurance and financial services subsidiary WSB and Mexico-based cosmetics and nutrition supplements giant Omnilife.

Incentive trips are an increasingly popular way for corporations to reward outstanding employees. This segment of the tourism industry is growing fast, with $60 billion spent on such trips in 2018.

Of some 100 incentive trips in Israel during 2019, those this fall are the largest yet.

Nearly 5,000 WSB salespeople, in two stages, stayed for six nights in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and toured across the country in September.

Omnilife, which has millions of salespeople across South America, booked a six-night stay in Jerusalem for 3,342 employees beginning October 1.

Altogether, these two companies’ incentive trips involve 32 hotels and 140 guided buses to tourist sites including the Dead Sea, Bethlehem and the Galilee.

A Jerusalem outdoor venue set up to host a crowd for a dinner show. Photo by Udi Goren

Eshet Incoming Tourism CEO Amnon Ben David said the Tel Aviv-based company has been managing incentive trips to Israel for 30 years. Lately, the phenomenon “is growing by number and by size of groups,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

Eshet markets incentive trips in 18 countries through local representatives including Central Holidays in New Jersey, which is owned by Egyptian company SGI.

From left, SGI Chairman & CEO Baher Ghabbour, Jerusalem Conventions and Visitors Bureau Director of Tourism Ilanit Melchior, WSB Chairman Xuan Nguyen, Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, and Eshet Incoming CEO Amnon Ben-David. Photo by Udi Goren

Over the past year, Eshet Incoming hosted more than 30 incentive trips of global corporations including Bosch-Siemens, Skoda, Renault, ASBA Bank, Bayer-Monsanto, Mercedes Spain, Porsche Spain, Unilever Brazil, Credit Agricola from France, and Generali from Italy.

“Omnilife came in 2012 with 1,400 people and came back seven years later with a much larger group,” Ben David says.

The projected contribution of these two companies’ incentive trips alone to Israel’s economy in general and Jerusalem in particular, is more than $20 million.

The Jerusalem Municipality, Jerusalem Development Authority and the Jerusalem and Heritage Ministry were actively involved in wooing WSB, covering the cost of one of the three gala biblical themed events in the city for participants.

In 2020 and 2021, incentive trips are expected to arrive in Israel from the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and Poland, among other countries.