Despite endless reports of violence in other parts of the troubled Middle East, a record 3.7 million foreign tourists descended on Israel during 2017 with U.S. visitors showing the way.
The figure represents a 25 percent year-on-year increase, the Israeli business daily Globes reported, citing statistics supplied by the Ministry of Tourism.
By far the largest number of visitors to the Jewish State, close to 700,000, came from the United States. Tourists from Russia represented the second largest group, with some 307,000 tourists. Then came France, with 284,000, Germany with 202,000 and the United Kingdom with 185,000.
Some 59 percent of the tourists were visiting Israel for the first time, according to Globes. Another 25 per cent said they were there for religious reasons or a pilgrimage. Some 24 per cent said they were visiting relatives and friends, while 23 per cent said they were planning on touring and hiking. Six percent came with an organised tour package.
Jerusalem was a destination for 78 percent of tourists in 2017. Other favourites included Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the Dead Sea and the Galilee region.
Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, “The all-time record number of tourists visiting Israel this year is no accident; it is the result of a clear policy. The actions taken by my ministry since I took up my position have brought Israel an unprecedented peak in incoming tourism.”
The tourism spend was just as healthy, according to the ministry. It reported that tourism contributed some £4.2 billion ($5.8 billion) to Israel’s economy over 2017, a boom that closely follows last year’s numbers.
As Breitbart Jerusalem reported, a record-high 2.9 million tourists also visited Israel in 2016, of whom 54 per cent were Christians.
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