Israel: "The Start-Up Nation"
Long a destination for religious focused travel, Isareal offers that and so much more in educational and leisure travel opportunities. Known by many as the “Start Up Nation” Israel is on the forefront of entrepreneurship and is a great destination for business focused programs. Other special interests include culinary programs given Israel’s ever improving wine production, a vast vegan food movement, local breweries, and markets, archaeology programs, international relations programs, and more.
The primary point of entry for international arrivals is Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport. A new international airport is expected to open in Eilat toward the end of 2017. Eilat, located on the Red Sea coast in southern Israel, is approx. a 5 hour drive from Tel Aviv, and is a good departure point for day or overnight trips to the UNESCO site of Petra in Jordan.
I recommend spending at minimum 2 to 3 nights in both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and depending on the program length and focus there are many other cities of interest to consider. For example, Eilat in the south can be included if interested in traveling to Petra in Jordan, or Haifa, a key business center, or Tiberias, near the Golan Heights wine region, in the north.
It is also possible to stay in Tel Aviv as a base for all activities as many local destinations of interest are within 1 to 3.5 hours drive by private coach transfer such as Haifa, Akko to the north and Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea to the south. There are limited train services to travel to surrounding cities, so for groups private coach transport allows for more efficient and flexible travel.
Overall, Israel offers good, standard accommodation options for groups of various budgets. Most groups opt to stay in properties located near the beach in Tel Aviv. There is a light rail train under construction in Tel Aviv which, once finished, will offer improved public transport within the city, so proximity to a station will then become an important factor to consider. Jerusalem has a working light rail so hotels within walking distance to a station, such as Leonardo Plaza Jerusalem, are great to help save on transport costs.
Israel is a fascinating country with many possibilities to create rewarding and educational program for groups.