The number of tourists coming from abroad to Israel reached an all-time record of 739,000 in the first quarter of 2017, up 24% from the corresponding quarter of last year, the Ministry of Tourism reports. In March alone, 293,000 tourists reached Israel from abroad, up 22% from March 2016.
The sharp rise in tourism comes despite the significant strengthening of the shekel, which makes Israel an especially expensive destination. In the first three months of the year, incoming tourism earned the Israeli economy an estimated NIS 4 billion, up NIS 730 million from the corresponding period of 2016. The rise in tourism has added some 5,000 new jobs to the Israeli economy.
In 2016, nearly 3 million tourists came to Israel, up 3.6% from 2015.
Virtually all tourists enter Israel by air. So for example in March, 256,000 tourists came by air and only 38,000 by land or sea, including 12,000 day visitors - this figure was down from 19,000 in March 2016.
April is expected to be a bumper month for tourism with the Passover and Easter festivals bringing large numbers of religious tourists to the country. The hope is that Israel can surpass the record number of 3.54 million tourists to Israel in 2013.
Since then, tourism was adversely affected by Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in the summer of 2014 and an upsurge in terror, mainly knifings in 2015. However, the relatively calm current situation, and worse terrorism in Europe, have resulted in a rise in tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism has taken advantage of the situation to launch a major marketing campaign and is paying carriers bonuses for bringing tourists to Ovda airport in the Negev and for opening new routes to cities previously without direct flights to Israel.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 13, 2017
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