Tourism to Israel has never been more popular. Despite the Arab Spring, the uprising in Syria and all the media speculation regarding a potential attack on Iran, people are continuing to travel to Israel on Holy Land tours.
During the first three months of the year, 752,000 tourists came to Israel, representing an all-time high for the first quarter. The first-quarter figures were up 1 percent over the previous all-time high for the same period, reached during the first quarter of 2010. Day tourists were up more than 78 percent, to 41,000 visitors. The large increase in day visitors is widely attributed to the turmoil in Egypt that occurred during the spring of 2011, which at the time prompted a significant decline in day tourism. Clearly, travel to Egypt is making a strong comeback so far in 2012, and this is good news for Israel's tourism industry.
Tourism is an extremely large contributor to Israel's economy. In 2011, Israel's 3.4 million tourists generated revenues estimated at $47 billion during that year. Over the last couple years, Israel's Ministry of Tourism has taken many steps to improve the tourism product and outreach to major markets overseas, but the most significant market segment to Israel's tourism industry remains the fast-growing Christian tourism market. Of all the 3.4 million tourists to Israel in 2011, more than 66 percent were Christian. Keenly aware of the potential of this market, the Ministry has recently embarked on a number of new initiatives to attract ever more tourists to Israel. These include the newly developed Gospel Trail, a 62 km trail from Nazareth to Capernaum, a new "Spirit of the Holy Land" YouTube channel featuring videos on Israel, a dedicated Catholic pilgrimage site, and a new initiative designed to reach evangelical Christians in North America, called the Pastors' Alliance. In addition, the Ministry of Tourism is launching a new Bar Mitzvah campaign and will be revamping their bar mitzvah site.
The Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov, said, "The Tourism Ministry's efforts to improve the tourism product and its diverse marketing activities worldwide continue to bear fruit as the numbers speak for themselves."
Elisa L. Moed is the founder and CEO of Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.
Publication date: April 18, 2012