Israel stressed the safety of the destination for visitors as it played host to this week’s annual Institute of Travel and Tourism conference.

Speaking to delegates in Tel Aviv, minister of tourism Yariv Levin said 68 years of independence means the country has developed world-leading measures to keep people safe.

He said Israel is keen to promote itself not just as a religious tours destination but a sun and sea holiday choice and the government is supporting new hotel developments to entice visitors.

“What we have in common with the UK is we are both islands in many respects. Israel is like an island within this region.

“It’s a very, very nice house within a not very favourable neighbourhood,” he said. “This is something we are used to dealing with.

“Through 68 years of independence we have developed measures to make sure what happens around us does not affect us inside.”

Levin said much better relations with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan is helping to ensure the instability in places like Iraq and Syria does not have an impact in Israel.

“There is no zero terrorism in any place in the world, but I think you can see it and feel it with your own eyes it’s really organised in Israel to make sure everyone is safe,” he said.

“We are talking about it [terrorism]. The subject is on the table, we are not hiding it.”

Levin said the country’s Ben Gurion airport is a world leader for security and he said he was pleased that airlines like Monarch and easyJet were serving the country.

However he said there was scope for more capacity to serve Israel as a winter sun destination.

“We are doing a lot to attract sea and sun visitors as well as city break visitors, not just pilgrimage business,” said Levin.

Simon Vincent, president of Hilton Worldwide, said there need to be greater awareness of what Israel has to offer.

“It is more than just religious holidays and visiting friends and family, it’s about the restaurants, the beaches and the culture,” he said.

“I have been coming here for eight or nine years and I have never felt safer.”