Poll: Israelis avoid Jerusalem

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says his aim is to increase the number of foreign visitors to 10 million a year.

April 5, 2012 04:36
1 minute read.
Jerusalem skyline

Jerusalem skyline 150. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

A new poll published this week by The Jerusalem Report reveals that nearly half of all citizens rarely visit Jerusalem – despite intensive efforts to increase tourism to the capital.

Speaking to the Report, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says his aim is to increase the number of foreign visitors to 10 million a year from the current level of 3.5 million.

But the poll, conducted on March 7 by New Wave Research, shows that in an average year, 46 percent of Israelis never visit Jerusalem, with another 43% visiting only one to five times a year.

Religious citizens are more likely to visit Jerusalem – 74% of them come to the capital at least once a year, compared to just 54% of their secular neighbors.

“Mayor Nir Barkat has made the economic and tourist revival of Jerusalem into the centerpiece of his leadership. But why did the object of two millennia of longing need reviving?” wonders pollster Dahlia Scheindlin.

“There’s a strong feeling that the ancient holiness of Jerusalem isn’t particularly attractive right now to Israeli Jews,” says Scheindlin.

Barkat has encouraged a rich array of cultural and sporting events to attract more local visitors, from the recent Jerusalem Marathon to opera, beer, wine and food festivals, together with a light festival and other nighttime attractions that have drawn hundreds of thousands of new visitors to the Old City.

He is confident that Jerusalem can be set firmly on the path to economic growth with tourism at the core of its development, not least from the 3.5 billion people around the world who see the city as the hub of their religious beliefs.

“It’s Jerusalem. Everyone knows what this city means,” Barkat tells the Report.

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