Five million foreign tourists will visit Israel annually by 2012, according to Tourism Ministry estimates. "Expanding Ben-Gurion Airport's hours of operation while using new and quiet passenger planes will help increase the number of incoming tourists to Israel, and the industry's profits by tens of millions of dollars a year," ministry director-general Shaul Tzemach said Sunday. The ministry anticipates a growth of 20 percent in the number of incoming tourists within the next few months. It expects 500,000 tourists in July-August and more than 550,000 in October-November. Tzemach is holding discussions on operating Ben-Gurion Airport overnight with the heads of the Israel Aviation Authority and representatives of foreign airlines as part of the ministry's preparations for 2009. Tzemach said the foreign carriers were interested in expanding the capacity of their flights to Israel. European airports do not normally operate at night and therefore the airline companies' planes would be available, he said. Adding operation hours to Ben-Gurion Airport's schedule "will also help reduce plane ticket prices, and companies interested in landing in Israel at night will have to use new and quiet planes that are even safer than usual," Tzemach said. "This way the residents of the towns and cities near the airport will not suffer and the tourism industry's profits will be higher." The Tourism Ministry plans to bring the initiative to the cabinet for approval in the next few months, he said.