Another year, another record. Inbound tourist arrivals for Israel over the past 12 months were expected to reach 4.6 million by the end of next week, setting a new record and building on a similar boom recorded in 2018, the Tourism Ministry said Thursday.
The big numbers come 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.
The new figures show an 18 percent increase compared to the period between September 2017 and September 2018, when 3.9 million visited. It marked the third consecutive year that numbers have climbed to a new level – and then some.
Over the past week, an estimated 82,000 tourists arrived in Israel, and another 24,000 are expected to arrive ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins on Sunday night, the ministry said.
“These impressive increases are a direct result of the strenuous work and revolutionary changes made by the Tourism Ministry, with an emphasis on expanding accommodation options in the country and reducing the cost of vacationing in Israel,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in the statement.
He was backed by Director-General of the Ministry of Tourism Amir Halevi who applauded the momentum in the tourism industry, adding it, “creates opportunities and we are happy with the trend of increasing numbers of entrepreneurs who see tourism as an economic growth engine and invest in Israel.”
Jerusalem traditionally leads the nation as the most sought-after tourist stop, 40 percent of tourists coming in are landing on return visits and the majority of them are Christians [61 percent] followed by Jewish tourists [22 percent].