Shalom! UK Visitors Lead the Way as Israel Smashes Tourism Records

Visitors from around the world in general and the UK in particular can't get enough of Israel, with tourist arrivals in the Holy Land smashing all previous records during 2019.
Toa Heftiba via Unsplash

The world in general and the UK in particular can’t get enough of Israel, with tourist arrivals in the Holy Land smashing all records during 2019.

The Israel Government Tourist Office in the UK announced Friday the past year saw a record number of tourists heading to Israel from the UK, with 235,400 visiting the country throughout the year, representing a rise of 8 percent from 2018 and 19 percent from 2017.

As a whole, Israel tourism drove a record-breaking 4,551,600 international tourists to the country throughout 2019, an increase of 11 percent from 2018 and 26 percent from 2017, bringing in 22 billion shekels ($6.3 billion) in revenue.

That came despite two major escalations between Israel and Palestinian militants who control Gaza. Some 1,300 terrorist rockets were fired into Israel in 2019, the most since the last major war fought with Hamas in Gaza in 2014.

Despite that, the arrivals never stopped.

The numbers also defied the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign attempting to delegitimize the Jewish state.

Overall, the United States remained the top country for incoming tourism in 2019, with a 7 percent rise to nearly 890,000 entries, followed by France, Russia, Germany, Britain and Italy. Tourism from China jumped 49 percent to 156,000.

Sharon E. Bershadsky, director of Israel Government Tourist Office in UK, welcomed the rise in numbers, saying the sheer scope of sites on offer drives the visitor arrivals.

“We’re thrilled to end 2019 with a new record for inbound tourists to Israel from the UK, ” Bershadsky said. “Our ‘Two Cities, One Break’ campaign continues to inspire UK travellers to get a taste of the buzzing, metropolitan, seaside delights of Tel Aviv, and explore the innumerable historic sites and archaeological wonders of Jerusalem. In 2020, we look forward to showcasing more of Israel’s natural wonders.”

Yariv Levin, minister of tourism for Israel, was equally upbeat, saying 2019 ended with a new record for incoming tourism to Israel, adding “We continue to consolidate the inbound tourism industry thanks to innovative marketing and promotional campaigns, and we recorded a 10 percent increase in incoming tourism in December 2019, compared with the same month last year.”

Israel saw a record number of 4.9 million entries into the country last year, of which 4.6 million were tourists who stayed at least one night, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Notable increases in overnight stays were identified in Tiberias (18 percent), Tel Aviv (9 percent) and Jerusalem (8 percent).

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