Haifa is about to be "invaded" – by Chinese tourists. Workers from Shanghai, Sanjin, and Chengdu will be offered low-cost vacation packages to the city, after Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav signed an agreement with officials from the tourism department of the three cities.
Considering the fact that there are about 200,000 workers in the unions – and those visiting are expected to come with their families – the city is preparing itself for an inundation of Chinese visitors.
After a ceremony this week, Chengdu joined the other two cities as Haifa's Sister Cities. The agreement include working together on municipal improvement projects, developing technology together – and a mutual tourism agreement. Haifa will do its share to encourage residents to visit China, while the Chinese cities will put the word out about Haifa-oriented vacations. But considering the potential pool of visitors from either side, it's likely that Haifa will be much more impacted than its Chinese partners.
“Haifa is expanding its arc of connections with municipalities around the world,” Yahav said. “We have extensive contacts in China, and now we are making a critical move to enhance tourism from that country by making this deal with some of China's largest cities. We place a great deal of importance on these ties, which will give businesses, developers, and entrepreneurs a wonderful opportunity to enhance their connections with China.”
A Haifa municipality spokesperson said that they expected the visitors to make a “significant contribution” to Haifa's economy. To prepare for the visitors, Yahav has spoken to developers, and hopes to increase the number of hotel rooms in the city from the current 1,700 to about 2,300.
“Hopefully,” the official added, “they won't all come at the same time.”