Mr. Gilbert Santa Maria President Philippines Airlines, Mr. Amir Halevi Director General Israel Ministry of Tourism. Handout

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.

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Originally Published Manila News-Intelligencer: 2021-05-04 12:41:00

Heart Castañeda

By Heart Castañeda

Birkbeck College, University of London is ranked joint 344th in the world this year and is the only one of these top universities in London that allows students to complete full-length degrees during evening courses, with all the visa and loan privileges of daytime study. Birkbeck is again located in the Bloomsbury area, close to UCL and SOAS and within walking distance of many central London attractions, and it schedules its programs with the aim of allowing students to complete a day’s work before attending class. Many students study part-time, taking advantage of the university’s flexible ethos, and are enrolled on a wide range of programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.