Summer tourism numbers heat up

Ministry survey shows highest tourist satisfaction with archeological sites and guides.

Tourism 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tourism 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Incoming tourist figures continue to break records.
On Monday, the Tourism Ministry announced that 280,000 people had visited Israel in July, 11 percent higher than last July’s figures and an all-time record for the month.
According to ministry figures, 1.9 million tourists entered the country between January and July, an increase of 34% over the same period last year, and 10% more than what was registered during those months in 2008 – which was a record year for tourism. July was the ninth consecutive record month for incoming tourists.
The ministry also announced that Israel’s archeological sites and the local tour guides ranked highest in a recent tourist satisfaction survey. The results of the survey, published Monday, show that tourist satisfaction increased across several indices compared to previous years.
The survey was carried out by the Geocartography Group during 2009 and polled 25,500 out of a total 2.7 million tourists who visited that year.
Tourists gave the highest marks (on a scale of 1 to 5) to archeological sites (4.6, up from 4.2 in 2008). Tour leaders and organized groups were ranked second (4.5, up from 4.3), followed by restaurants (4.1, up from 3.7), beaches and sea (4.3, up from 3.9), and cleanliness of public spaces (3.9, up from 3.4). Tourists gave a particularly high score to the Israeli public’s attitude toward them – 4.3, up from 3.9 in 2008. Despite the security situation, they awarded a score of 4.1 (up from 4) for personal security. Value for money also increased, from 3.3 in 2008 to 3.9 in 2009.
According to the survey, 34% of tourists in 2009 were Jewish and 58% were Christian.
Fifty-two percent were repeat visitors. The average length of stay was 10 nights, and the average cost of the visit was $1,112. Seventyfour percent visited Jerusalem, 55% visited Tel Aviv, 45% went to the Dead Sea, 36% traveled to Tiberias, 29% saw Nazareth, and 17% stayed in Eilat.
“The consistent growth in incoming tourism over recent months, alongside the increasing satisfaction tourists feel toward the service they receive in Israel, should not be taken for granted,” said Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov. “This is the result of large investments in marketing, public relations, infrastructure development, encouraging investors and upgrading the training and service frameworks.
The Israeli public already understands tourism’s contribution to the Israeli economy and creating new jobs, as well as Israel’s image around the world – now it’s the turn of the Finance Ministry to translate this contribution into an increase in budget for the Tourism Ministry in order to continue the momentum.”
Meseznikov said the ministry had shown positive results with a NIS 250 million marketing budget and required NIS 300 million to 350m. next year to aid in accessing new markets and attracting additional tourists.