More than 3 million tourists came to Israel last year, the vast majority of them staying for at least one night, making 2011 the second most voluminous year for incoming tourism.
The government's Central Bureau of Statistics issued its annual tourism report on Monday, which showed that Israel's popularity as a tourist destination remained relatively steady, dropping just 2 percent from the record levels of 2010. Just last month, 263,000 tourists arrived, compared with the previous December's 269,000.
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Some 540,000 tourists arrived in Israel for day visits in 2011, mostly from Russia, Poland and the Ukraine. A significant number of these opted to arrive on a cruise ship.
Reacting to the report, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitenu) on Monday touted Israel's success in luring visitors as well as the ongoing intensive efforts his ministry is making this year to tap the country's full tourism potential.
"First and foremost we want to make vacations in Israel affordable to everyone and we are engaged in a marketing campaign to bolster Israel's image as a tourism hotspot. This will allow us to meet this year's goal of 4 million tourists. This will serve as an indirect boost to the economy by increasing revenue and adding jobs to the tourism industry," Misezhnikov said.
He added that "despite the shifting geo-political and economic sands in 2011, the Israeli economy saw record [tourism-related] revenues of NIS 35 billion [$ 9.1 billion] over the past year – a 2% increase from the previous year."
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