According to Henry Jakubowicz, the director of iTicketing Ltd. which represents the Israel operations of iBooking, an international booking and ticketing engine, "This service is already being used in New York, London, Rome, Dubai, Berlin and many others. Jerusalem is fertile ground for this type of operation."
The process of applying the iBooking platform to Jerusalem hasn't always been straightforward, says Jakubowicz. "The attitude here is often, 'That's the way we do it so that's how it is.' But we want to change the way things are done. We've recognized that people these days like to do everything online and we're taking high technology and internationally proved knowledge in online tourism and applying it to Israel. We want people to be able to do their booking in their native language in advance so that they don't need to wait to get here to book their Kotel Tunnel Tour, for example, and possibly miss out."
With the advent of this new service, available at GoJerusalem.com, visitors and locals alike can now book tours directly on the website, making for easier vacation planning and convenience. With the new system, visitors can now book tours with top guides, including hotel pick-ups, all with one click of the mouse. Tours on offer include Jerusalem Old and New and the Classic Old City Tour as well as tours out of the city, including to the Dead Sea or Israel's northern coastline.
These tours are confirmed immediately online, with no email or phone calls back and forth, a key element which is missing from many other online booking platforms. According to Jakubowicz, "Right now there are many places that claim they have online booking but then when you try to book their tours you get an email saying, 'We've received your request, you can call us between this and this hours....' Say you are a tourist from Toronto. You don't want to worry about the time changes and calling to confirm a booking. You just want to log in, book and be done. And this doesn't just apply to foreign tourists. There are many Jerusalem residents who prefer to be able to go online and book tours in English."
Jakubowicz emphasizes the city's need for such a development. "The online booking is providing a service that to date does not exist in a proper form in Jerusalem. And I would say that for a tourist capital, that's pretty scandalous. We have a lot of tourists, we want to provide them with easy access, making their stay more enjoyable and planning more convenient."
The tour booking platform is one of many booking options available now on GoJerusalem.com, with others including hotel bookings and restaurant reservations, group experiences and cellphone rentals, with more services in the works to roll out in the coming monts, including museum visits to performance tickets.