The World Says ‘Shalom’ as Israel Inbound Tourism Soars to New Record

Tourists walk past souvenir T-shirts for sale in Jerusalem's Old City on December 6, 2017. President Donald Trump is set to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital, upending decades of careful US policy and ignoring dire warnings from Arab and Western allies alike of a historic misstep that could trigger a …
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty

Inbound tourism to Israel has soared to nearly 2.6 million tourists so far in 2019 — a rise of nearly 10 percent against the same period last year, the Central Bureau of Statistics said Monday.

Just under half of all arrivals came from the U.S. at 49 percent (580,000 tourists). They were followed by France (207,000), Russia (174,000), Germany (165,000) and the United Kingdom (132,000). The statistics reveal tourists have spent about $3.7 billion so far this year, and most have arrived by airplane.

The boom in numbers comes in direct defiance of efforts by the anti-Israel, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which seeks to isolate the Jewish state and endless reports of violence in other parts of the troubled Middle East.

It also comes on the heels of a successful hosting of the Eurovision song contest finals in May and a rush in visitors over that period driven by a global advertising campaign:

Meanwhile Open Skies aviation reforms have made airfares cheaper in Israel, which helps deliver tourists from around the globe and encourages Israelis to travel abroad, Haaretz reported.

July alone brought more than 322,000 tourists to Israel, up 10 percent from mid-2018 and 19 percent from mid-2017.

Significant increases in incoming tourism compared to July 2018 were also registered by inbound travellers from China (78 percent increase), Portugal (54 percent), Brazil (36 percent), Italy (34 percent), Spain (33 percent) and Mexico (30 percent).

“Summer begins with a hike in tourist arrivals to Israel,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin as he applauded the strong figures.

“July was one of the best months for incoming tourism in recent years, part of the trend of increased tourist arrivals in recent months, thanks to the innovative marketing efforts of the [Tourism Ministry]. I have no doubt that this momentum will continue into the coming months.”

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