A total of 90,000 tourists are expected to arrive in Israel over the Christmas holiday, a third of which are pilgrims for the Christian holiday, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Some 2.1 million Christian tourists will have visited Israel by the end of the year.
“The Christian community, along its many denominations and hundreds of million of believers, is a central anchor to Israel’s incoming tourism industry,” said Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov. “The Ministry of Tourism is working year-round with communities in Israel and abroad to promote cooperation with leaders and believers from around the world, who act as a bridge toward peace and promoting pilgrimages in the Holy Land.”
Israel's tourism ministry, police, municipalities and border crossing officials are working with Christian communities in order to create a welcoming entry and exit to and from Israel. Misezhnikov hosted leaders of the Christian communities in Israel and officials from the pilgrim tourism industry in a holiday reception on Monday.
The Ministry of Tourism will also provide free transportation for pilgrims traveling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Beginning Saturday, Dec. 24 at 12 p.m. through Sunday, Dec. 25 at 12 p.m., busses will leave from Mar Elias Monastery to the Church of the Nativity and return on a need basis.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, during the first half of this year, 1.6 million tourists visited Israel, 60 percent of whom were Christian.
In order to make border crossings as easy as possible, the Ministry of Tourism is currently preparing the names of the tourists and pilgrims wishing to do so. Contact the Ministry of Tourism's open hotline for tourists at 050.621.4070 or 050.621.4127.
Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.
Publication date: December 13, 2011