Gal Hana has been working as Israel Tourism's consul, director for Canada since August 2019.
Prior to that, he served as a professional advisor to the Director General of the Ministry of Tourism where he engaged in responsibilities which included aiding in government-level decision making, legislative amendments, and more.
"I actually never thought that I would work in travel, especially not to be a Consul for Tourism, but when my boss, the director general of the office, Mr. Amir Halevi, suggested that I should apply to the position as it is an amazing professional and personal experience, I took his advice," Hana recalled. "Today, I can't thank him enough for the suggestion."
Now, Hana, who lives in Toronto with his wife and four kids, says his role with the tourism board is to promote Israel as a holiday destination to as many Canadians as possible.
"We do that by raising the awareness of travel to Israel by leveraging marketing activities, such as having a digital presence on all major platforms, running out of home campaigns, creating marketing agreements with tour operators and travel agents, hosting seminars and webinars, and scheduling a lot of meetings to highlight Israel as a premium leisure destination in which you will have the experience of your life time."
Here, PAX checks in with Hana about where to find the best hummus in Israel, the activity he loves to do with the kids, and the "Caribbean gem" of Israel that every Canadian should visit.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Gal Hana (GH): It may sound weird to some but I actually don’t like to fly, I will always prefer road trips. I believe that this is the way to explore a destination.
Since I arrived in Canada, we have already explored so many sites and places. I usually travel very light – the minimum amount of clothes, laptop and I always carry some of our amazing marketing materials with me.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
GH: First I must say that Israel is the my favorite place. I am kind of disappointed to be here when the Kinneret (Sea of Glillee) is full with water after so many years, and I can't witness that. Plus, Tel Aviv is my favorite place to stroll the streets and enjoy the best food there is.
The Carmel market is my favorite place in the world – so many colours, smells, and cultures all in one place. Abroad, I love Greece as it is an amazing sun escape destination – great people, great food, and my favourite music (Tavern) makes it one of the ideal destinations.
PAX: What do you love about your job? The travel industry?
GH:The best word to describe the tourism industry is synergy. The thing in our work is that tourism is practically one of the only industries that really makes a change, by that its influence is bigger the the sum of its parts.
By that, I mean that getting people around the world to interact and experience other cultures, ideas and perceptions is what really makes the world a better place. Tourism is way more than a vacation; tourism is a way to explore the world, and explore yourself and this is why it is, probably, one of the most important industries there are.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
GH: When I was six, I remember my parents took me and my sister to Eilat. Eilat is the summer gateway in Israel. It is our Cancun, or our Miami, and it is wonderful. We drove for four hours, and on the way we stopped in the Negev desert. We hiked in the Ramon crater and then we got to Eilat and it was magnificent. The crystal clear water, the restaurants, the activities, and the markets were just a vacation I will never forget.
PAX: What's the most memorable food/meal you ever ate while travelling?
GH: As I eat Kosher food, my menu is a bit limited when it comes to travel. However, some of the best recommendations that I will share with readers are really culinary gems in Israel – Panda Pita in the Carmel market is something amazing – they have this amazing eggplant with hummus in pita bread you won’t believe.
Plus the Ramla is only 20 minutes from Tel-Aviv and you will find one of Israel's best hummus spots- Halil restaurant. If you are there you must search for Kanafeh; it's a fine semolina dough, soaked in sweet, sugar-based syrup, and layered with cheese.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
GH: I love to draw and paint. Unfortunately, I don’t do that enough and only with the kids occasionally.
PAX: When flying, window shade up or down?
GH: I will have my shade down from the second I am up on the plane. Usually, I will try to read or sleep as much as I can!
PAX: What are one to two things travel agents should be aware of right now in regards to the Israel Ministry of Tourism?
GH: After several years without a Consul of Tourism our ministry realized the potential in the Canadian market.
Israel has changed a lot in recent years, so as a destination we appeal to every client there is. From wellness with the new Six Senses resort, to taking part in the Yoga Arava festival; to hiking and biking in the Negev, Galilee, or the Golan heights, to enjoying an urban adventure in Tel-aviv and Jerusalem.
All the relevant trends that people are highlighting towards 2020 are relevant to Israel – its only a matter of information. This is our role and we are here to support any tour operator, air company or travel agent out there who wish to promote Israel.
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