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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Jerusalem is snugly nested between Cuzco (Peru) and Siem Reap (Cambodia) as the world's 17th most popular tourism destination, as rated by Travel + Leisure readers in a 2009 online poll.
Popular destinations such as Barcelona, London and even Paris didn't reach the list of 20 cities, the Jerusalem Municipality pointed out in a triumphant press release.
Indian city Udiapur led this year's list, pushing 2008's winner Bangkok to the third place. The magazine, which conducted its poll between January-March 2009, is also running a rating of the world's best hotels, top islands and top large-ship cruise lines. A festive ceremony will be held next week in New York honoring the winners.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who took office last November, lauded the achievement and spoke of the ways to make it into a trend.
"The municipality under my leadership is making great efforts to realize the city's immense tourism potential, and have set a goal to substantially increase tourist numbers in the upcoming decade," he said in the press release.
"Jerusalem is the heart's desire of billions of believers worldwide, and we are currently conducting an extensive mapping of tourist needs and their implementations, in order to adapt the local culture scene to the international market, and to bring international conventions to the city," Barkat added.