tourists temple 298 88aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Some 1.9 million tourists visited Israel during 2005, representing a rise of 27 percent since 2004. This was the greatest number of visitors since before the Intifada broke out in October 2000.
The most visitors - 457,000 - came from the United States, though over 100,000 came from both Great Britain and Germany. French tourists came in record numbers, reaching a total of 311,000.
Spain, Portugal and Poland, whose tourism to Israel increased by approximately 150%, represent the countries that have shown the highest increase in people visiting Israel. Nearly all countries on the Tourism Ministry's list had more visitors to Israel in 2005 than in the previous year.
"I expect the positive trend to continue through 2006," Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson forecasted. "We hope to welcome three million tourists this year," he says.
Prior to 2001, more than two million people a year visited Israel. Once the country was hit by the terror attacks of the second Intifada, that number dropped sharply to about 1.2 million. Only in 2003 did that pattern reverse, though numbers have not yet returned to pre-Intifada levels.
If Hirchson's expectation is fulfilled, it would represent the greatest surge of tourism Israel had ever seen.