1.97 million tourists entered Israel in the first half of 2023, still 13% lower than the peak in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the Tourism Ministry.
The total revenue from foreign tourism in the first half of 2023 is estimated at NIS 11.7 billion, compared to NIS 5.4 billion in the first half of last year.
The ministry noted that the increase in revenue comes from both the increase in the number of tourists and the strengthening of the dollar against the shekel.
Why is tourism still lower than pre-COVID levels?
The Tourism Ministry stressed that Israel only became fully accessible to tourists in the middle of last year, meaning the tourism industry is still recovering. Additionally, the war in Ukraine has led to a dramatic decrease in tourism from Russia and Ukraine. Before the war, Russia was the second largest source of tourists to Israel, after the US.
Tourism from China to Israel is also still limited.
"The trend in tourist arrivals is positive and it seems that we are on the sure path to breaking records," said Tourism Minister Haim Katz. "Israel is attractive and offers a wealth of experiences. I will work to remove barriers to arriving in the country, speeding up the pace of infrastructure construction and adding accommodations, in order to actualize the tourist potential."
In June, about 323,000 tourists arrived in the country, an increased compared to the 244,500 recorded in June of last year, but lower than the 365,100 recorded in June 2019.
The Tourism Ministry estimated that the total number of tourist arrivals would reach 3.9 million by the end of the year.