|An Israeli tourism department official (L) welcomes Chinese tourists at the Ben Gurion International airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 26, 2008. The first Israel-bound Chinese tour group arrived here Friday. They will visit some famous sites such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea within the 10-day trip.(Xinhua/Yin Bogu)
China's first tour group to the Holy Land headed off during the National Day Holiday. The State of Israel opened up its borders to Chinese tourism in September.
The first group of Chinese visitors, toured Jerusalem, a holy city for three faiths - Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, and the Mediterranean city of Haifa.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism held a brief welcoming ceremony for the first Chinese tour group. Each traveler was issued a certificate expressing the ministry's thanks. The certificates named the visitors as tourist ambassadors.
Raphael Ben-Hur, Israel Ministry of Tourism, said, "We are excited to have a Chinese tourist group come to Israel. It's a wonderful opportunity for Israel to promote its many attractions. We have been preparing even small details of the visit for a long time. I think our Chinese guests will feel very welcome."
During their ten day's stay in Israel, the Chinese tourists traveled to famed tourist sites and tasted local culinary specialties.
A Chinese tourist said, "We didn't know we are the first group of Chinese tourists to come Israel until we arrived. They've given a lot of attention to our trip and we're very happy with their thoughtful treatment."
Safety issues are a primary concern for the Chinese tourists. Israel's tourism ministry promised to guarantee the safety of the visitors during their stay.