About four months after coronavirus restrictions limiting entry into Israel were lifted on March 1, the country’s one-millionth visitor in 2022 arrived at Ben-Gurion airport on Sunday, where she was greeted by Tourism Minister Yoel Razbozov and Tourism Ministry representatives.
The honored tourist was Belinda Desoyo Lee Marcelo, 53, who hails from the United Arab Emirates. Marcelo arrived notably earlier than Razbozov had expected earlier this year as tourist #1,000,000.“At first we thought and hoped that US President, Joe Biden, would be the millionth tourist to arrive in Israel in 2022, but once again, we have beaten the forecast,” he said.
“Last year, our skies were closed, there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism,” Razbozov continued. “Despite the situation, we did not give up at any stage. We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges.”
Indeed, tourism does seem to be regaining its stride in Israel, a country that benefits greatly from the steady spending of sightseers. According to the Tourism Ministry, there were 244,500 tourist entries in June 2022, just 33% less than the record set in June 2019.
"We brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges.”Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov
Based on the recovery trend in incoming tourism, it is expected that up to two million tourists will arrive in Israel by the end of the year. (It is unknown what number visitor President Biden will be during his upcoming visit to Israel, but surely the ministry is hoping for another fun number such as 1,111,111 or 1,234,567.)
“In contrast to all the pessimistic forecasts, we can see today that tourism has returned to Israel,” Razbozov said. “A million tourists inject money into the Israeli economy, create job opportunities throughout the country and provide a livelihood for whole families. Now we look forward to the objective I have set for the industry: 10 million tourists in 2030.”
The Tourism Ministry announced last month that it was launching an initiative to develop the country’s tourism infrastructure with an expected budget of NIS 300 million. It is inviting local authorities and public bodies to submit requests for assistance with projects that will significantly contribute to tourism, both incoming and domestic.
The initiative’s manager, Tourism Ministry Director-General Dani Shahar, said, “I invite local authorities and public bodies to submit requests for assistance with projects that will make a real difference, projects that will make a significant contribution to incoming tourism and domestic tourism.
Added Razbozov, “The ministry hopes that the initiative will result in a stronger Israeli economy, which will in turn lower the cost of living and reduced vacation costs for Israelis. Taking a vacation is not only for the rich.”