Some 3,500 companies either established branches abroad or began export or import projects in 2006, bringing to more than 30,000 the number of companies exporting to, or with offices in, locations around the globe, the Israel Export Institute said Wednesday. "This is very good growth - we are very happy with it," said Danny Laish, spokesman for the Export Institute. The growth, equal to roughly 11 percent above 2005 levels, resulted from many more businesses having realized the potential foreign markets can offer, as well as the fact that many new projects have been undertaken in the last year, according to Laish. According to the Export Institute, the US attracts the most Israeli businesses with over 7,300 companies now either co-located in or exporting to, cities across the US, after adding 740 in 2006. Israel now has over 23,000 companies with business ties to countries in the European Union, after adding over 1,700 last year, most notably in Germany (8% growth to 2,547), France (9% growth to 2,226) and Italy (8% growth to 1,858). An additional 859 Israeli companies have started operations with countries in Asia, bringing the total number of Israeli companies in the Far East to approximately 9,000, and the presence of Israeli companies in Latin America also increased significantly (8%) in 2006, bringing the total number of businesses with operations there to over 4,000. Some 10 countries around the world have only one Israeli company with a business presence, including Greenland, Micronesia and the Marshall and Falkland Islands. In addition to increasing exportation of products, Israeli companies have also raised the amount of consulting they do for businesses around the world. According to the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, consultation services from Israel to foreign businesses reached $19.3 billion in 2006, posting growth of 10% above 2005. "Exporting our services, or advice, equaled 31% of total exports from Israel in 2006," said Uriel Lynn, president of the FICC, on Wednesday. "In the last four years, service exports have grown 52%, equal to $7.5b.," he added. Approximately 66% of Israel's service exports head to business, trade and industry consultation, with this sector seeing growth of 17%, worth $1.7b., in 2006. Foreign transportation and tourism companies are also purveyors of Israeli service exports, generating a combined $6.5b. for the Israeli economy. Service exports for the tourism industry are measured in part by the number of visitors who come to Israel each year, with 2006 seeing a 2% decrease in tourism, due to the Second Lebanon War.