Fewer than 10% of Evangelical Christians have been to Israel, although nearly half are extremely interested in visiting the country, according to a new report published Thursday by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matters Research.
Specifically, the survey found that only 7% of an estimated 59 million Evangelical Christians (4.1 million people) have taken a tour of Israel, while 40% (23.6 million people) are extremely interested in visiting and 80% (47 million) have at least some interested in traveling to the country.
The research surveyed more than 1,000 American Evangelical Protestants who agreed with four basic religious premises: The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe; it is important for me to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their savior; Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin; and that only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
According to the researchers, around 23% of Americans can be considered Evangelical based on this criterion.
Before COVID-19, Israel was in the top 25% of countries visited by Americans, the authors of the report point out. According to the National Trade & Tourism Office, Israel was #24 on the list of countries visited the most by Americans.
Some 897,1000 American visitors came to Israel in 2018 and 969,400 in 2019, according to the Tourism Ministry. In total, Israel hosted more than 4.1 million tourists in 2019 and 4.5 million in 2019, with the industry accounting for around 2.1 of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the World Tourism Organization.
However, Evangelical Protestants are less likely than average to have traveled internationally than other Americans, according to the survey: 56% of Evangelicals have been abroad compared to 71% of Americans in general.
The survey showed that the more “spiritually engaged” an individual is, the more likely the person will want to come to Israel.
“Israel is, after all, the land of the Bible, the book that is central to the Evangelical worldview,” the authors note in their survey summary.
Specifically, interest in visiting is higher among those who believe the Jews are still God’s chosen people - about half according to a previous survey by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research.
Interest is also higher among those who read the Bible and attend church.
Nine percent of people who attend church at least monthly have visited, compared to less than 1% of those who infrequently or never attend worship, the survey showed. Similarly, 10% of those who read the Bible at least once a week have traveled to Israel, compared to less than 1% who are less frequent readers.
How do people like to visit?
The most desirable way is either with a group led by a well-known Christian leader (50%) or with a group that includes a pastor and people from their church (49%), the survey showed.
And those who do visit, the majority want to come back: 52% of Evangelicals who have been to Israel are “extremely interested” in returning. Another 43% of previous visitors are moderately interested.