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Over 4 million tourists visited Israel last year

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Tourism market growing by leaps and bounds in Israel

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Over 4.1 million tourist entries have been recorded in Israel in the period January – December 2018, an increase of about 14% compared to the same period last year. Revenue from tourism in 2018 reached about $5.8 billion (about NIS 22 billion).

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, approximately 325,600 tourist entries were recorded in December 2018, 12.2% more than December 2017 and 31% more than December 2017. Revenue from tourism in December reached about $460 million (NIS 1.7 billion).

“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel. We have broken incoming tourism records and this achievement is the direct result of intensive work that we are doing at the Tourism Ministry,” said Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin. “This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world. Incoming tourism makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its’ image.”

In 1978, Israel passed the 1 million tourist mark, thirty years after the establishment of the State. While it took 16 years to add the next one million tourists (in 1994) and 23 years to reach three million tourists (in 2017), it took just two years to reach four million.

“This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year. This is the result of hard and strenuous work in recent years, as part of a revolution in the way that Israel is marketed around the world as a tourist destination,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said. “We are optimistic about 2019 that begins with the opening of the new international airport at Timna, that will enable us to continue bringing new flights to Eilat. What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world. ”

The top six source countries to Israel for incoming tourism are the United States (897,100), France (346,000), Russia (316,000), Germany (262,500), UK (217,900) and Italy (150,600).

In 2018, leading international market research firm EuroMonitor named Jerusalem as the fastest-growing tourism destination in the world – more than any other city in the world.

40% of tourists who arrived in Israel in 2018 were returning tourists who have already visited Israel – proof that Israel is a desirable destination in the world. In 2018, 61% of all tourists were Christian, 22% were Jews, 12.1% were not affiliated, 1.8% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhists, 0.5% were Hindus, and 0.1% were Bahais and 1.7% others.

As in previous years, the Ministry of Tourism gave grants to entrepreneurs to encourage the establishment, expansion and conversion of hotels in various cities, from north to south. This year, NIS 145 million was allocated to help entrepreneurs build 3,829 new rooms, representing an annual year on year growth of 49% (2017: 2,566 new rooms; 2016: 1,936 new rooms and in 2015: 1,333 new rooms).

December tourist entries in thousands 2010-2018

• 288,100 tourist entries were by air, 12.7% more than December 2017 and 30% more than December 2016.
• 37,400 tourists arrived via the land crossings, 8.4% more than in December 2017 and 38.5% more than in December 2016.
• 26,200 arrived as day visitors in December, 42.8% more than December 2017 and 55.6% more than in 2016.
January – December 2018
• In the months January-December 2018, about 4.1 million tourist entries were recorded, 14% more than 2017 and 42% more than 2016. Revenue from tourism in 2018 reached about $5.8 billion (about NIS 22 billion)
Tourist entries, in 000’s, by month, 2016-2018

Month 2016 2017 2018
January 165 212 257
February 191 234 299
March 240 293 393
April 253 349 408
May 297 347 396
June 236 303 310
July 232 271 293
August 211 254 279
September 265 278 282
October 272 426 485
November 288 356 388
December 249 290 326
Total, in 000’s 2,900 3,613 4,120
% increase year on year 4% 25% 14%

Tourist and day visitor entries, in 000’s, and by mode of arrival

  2016 2017 2018
Tourists 2900 3613 4120
Day visitors 169 250 268
  By mode of arrival
By air 2623 3205 3634
By land 276 408 486
By sea 74 53 46
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