By Anav Silverman
About 3.54 million tourists traveled to Israel in 2013, half a percent more than the previous record year of 2012 according to a report by the Israel Tourism Ministry. Jerusalem was the most popular city to visit , with 75% of all incoming tourist traffic visiting the capital. Tel Aviv held second place (64%) and the Dead Sea came in third place (51%). Tiberias and Nazareth were the fourth (44%) and fifth (35%) most visited cities respectively.
Tourism Minister, Dr. Uzi Landau noted that the 2013 was a record year for tourism. “Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the security situation in the region, tourists voted with their feet.”
In Jerusalem, the most visited site was the Western Wall, followed by the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa and the Mount of Olives.
Over half of the incoming tourists (53%) were Christian, with half Catholic. About 28% were Jewish. The leading county for incoming tourists was the United States, with 623,000 visitors in 2013. Closely following the USA, was Russia, with 603,000 visitors – a slight increase from the previous year. The number of tourists from France, Germany and the UK was also significant, as were tourist numbers from Italy, Ukraine and Poland.
About 54% of the tourists were first time visitors and 46% were returning visitors. The satisfaction level of tourists visiting Israel in 2013 was very good to excellent according to surveys.
Domestic tourism also experienced a rise, with 3% more than last year.
According to Tourism Minister Landau, the ministry will continue to invest in maintaining the numbers of tourists arriving in Israel by opening new markets and actively marketing tourism around the world in 2014.
Israel’s total revenue from tourism in 2013 is estimated at 40 billion NIS including both domestic and incoming tourists. Revenue from incoming tourists in 2013 reached 18.2 NIS ($5 billion), while domestic tourism totaled 12 billion NIS ($3 billion). Outgoing tourism also contributed to revenues.
Tazpit News Agency