Tourists look at the Dome of the Rock, located in Jerusalem's Old City on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, June 21, 2018.
(photo credit: AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS)
More than four million tourists visited Israel in 2018, an increase of 14% from 2017 and 42% from 2016, the Ministry of Tourism announced Sunday.
In all, 4,120,800 foreign visitors came to Israel in 2018, the ministry statement said.
“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel" Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said. " We have broken incoming tourism records and this achievement is the direct result of intensive work that we are doing at the Tourism Ministry. This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world.
"Incoming tourism makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its’ image,” Levin said.
“This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year," said the ِDirector General of the Tourism Ministry, Amir Halevi. "We are optimistic about 2019 that begins with the opening of the new international airport at Timna, that will enable us to continue bringing new flights to Eilat. What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world."
"What once seemed a fantasy a few years ago is a reality today: Israel is one of the most desirable tourist destinations in the world."
Although Israeli tourism is thriving
, with Jerusalem one of the fastest growing tourism destinations in the world, the Middle East and North Africa have witnessed a downturn in tourism, with cities including Jerba and Sousse in Tunisia, and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt dropping out of the top 100 city destinations in recent years “mainly due to terrorist attacks and subsequent slumping demand.” Cairo has bucked the trend, however, by welcoming an 11.5% increase in visitors.
Israel did not only experience a record year of incoming tourism in 2018, it also witnessed a record year of Israelis travelling abroad.
Over four million Israelis traveled out of the country last year some 8.5 million times in total, an increase of 12% since 2017, with the vast majority of trips (7.8 million) by airplane. Of those journeys, 27% (2.3 million) were in July and August.