A record 3.5 million tourists visited Israel over the past 12 months, the Tourism Ministry announced on Wednesday. This marked a 3 percent increase over the previous year.
“Against the background of the geopolitical challenges and the global economic crisis, the achievements are even greater," Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said. "We will continue to work in the coming year to make a vacation in Israel more accessible, cheaper and more attractive for Israelis and tourists alike.”
The figures for the Jewish year of 5772 show that revenue from incoming tourism reached 18 billion shekels ($4.5 billion), an increase of 10% and NIS 2 billion ($500,000) from the previous year.
The area of greatest growth for Israel's tourism industry was the number of visitors arriving on cruise ships, which rose 24%.
Of the 3.5 million tourists who visited Israel in the past year, around three million stayed more than one night, a 2% increase over the previous year.
In the past year, the Tourism Ministry has allocated grants for the construction of 18 new hotels in Israel, which will add 2,119 rooms throughout the country. Half the new hotels will be in Jerusalem, where the Tourism Ministry said there is a serious shortfall in hotel room supply.
More than 300,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel during the coming Jewish holidays.