Over a million tourists visit Israel 1st quarter of 2011

Figure marks 4% rise from last year, 18% higher than 2009.

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May 12, 2011 03:01
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More than a million tourists visited Israel in the first quarter of 2011, a 4 percent increase over the same period in 2010, the Tourism Ministry announced on Sunday.

Counting those arriving by air and cruise passengers, 1,040,000 visitors arrived in Israel during the first quarter of the year, including 300,000 in April alone – 18% more than visited Israel in April 2009.

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The figures for the first quarter would put Israel on track to break 2010’s tourism record, when around 3.45 million tourists visited Israel.

Tourism Minister, Stas Meseznikov, on Sunday said the positive figures for Israeli tourism come in spite of the volatility currently roiling much of the Middle East.

“The Tourism Ministry must contend with the geopolitical situation in the region that is influencing incoming tourism into Israel as well,” Meseznikov said. “In recent weeks, the ministry initiated several marketing activities to increase demand for tourism to Israel, and will continue with these activities over the coming months.

“Marketing activities have succeeded in increasing the number of incoming tourists who stay more than one night in Israel and, as a result, tourism’s percentage of the GDP has grown. Revenue from tourism in the period January through April has grown to $940 million – 3% more than the same period last year.”

Meseznikov also offered his hope that the Fatah-Hamas unity deal would not bring any sort of disruption to tourism in the West Bank, a major source of income for the Palestinian Authority.

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“Because of the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and the Hamas, the Tourism Ministry is working to ensure a continuation of the tourism cooperation and continued access to the holy sites and places that are located within the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

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