Ministry: Despite geopolitical situation, Israel tourism only fell 3% in 2015

The total number of tourists to visit Israel in 2015 was estimated at more than three million.

General view of Tel Aviv beach (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
General view of Tel Aviv beach
Tourism to Israel fell only three percent in 2015 compared to the previously year “despite the geopolitical situation” and recovery from Operation Protective Edge, the Tourism Ministry announced Wednesday.
The total number of tourists in 2015 was estimated at more than 3 million, showing “resilience” and “reflecting a slight decrease of 3 percent compared to 2014,” the ministry said.
“We have achieved an unprecedented budget for marketing abroad,” touted Tourism Ministry director- general Amir Halevy, touting efforts to increase both the number of flights to Eilat and the number of hotels being constructed across the country.
Americans accounted for around 20% of the tourists, with some 586,000 visitors.
Russia came in second, with 392,000 tourists, a decrease of 26% over 2014.
The next most common origins for tourists were France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee area were the most popular destinations.
78% of tourists arrived by air while only 9% came by land, a decrease of 27% over the previous year. Day trips and tourists arriving as part of cruises increased to make up the difference, however.
Some 52% of tourists were Christians while an additional 27% of visitors were Jewish. Half had already visited Israel in the past while nearly a quarter of tourists came on organized tours. 22% of tourists defined the purpose of their visit as a pilgrimage.
Domestic tourism in the first half of 2015 amounted to 7.6 million overnight stays in all manner of facilities, the ministry stated.
The ministry also recently announced a NIS 8 million campaign targeting Russians as well as a fast-track application for Chinese tourists who had already been granted visas by the US or European Union.
Meanwhile, hotels in Jerusalem, which have been hit hard by a recent wave of terrorist stabbings, have reported that occupancy levels have dropped precipitously since October.