Israel's tourism sector finished 53rd in the world in a global ranking released by the World Economic Forum for 2013, a drop from 46th in 2011 and 36th in 2009.
In the Middle East region, Israel ranked third, behind the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
The World Economic Forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report attributed Israel's drop in the ranking to a number of factors, including terrorism concerns, decreasing price competitiveness (133rd out of 140 ranked countries), and increasing fuel prices, hotel prices, ticket taxes and airport charges. The report also cited a perception that general taxation in Israel was growing more distorted.
On a positive note, the report said Israel benefits from its cultural attributes, including a number of World Heritage sites. Israel ranked highly in the categories of health and hygiene (26th) and information and communications technology infrastructure (27th).
Switzerland's tourism sector was ranked first worldwide, followed by Germany, Austria, Spain, the U.K., U.S., France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore.
In response to the report, Israel's Tourism Ministry said, "In the areas that the Tourism Ministry is responsible for, there were significant improvements, such as the rise in the effectiveness of the Israeli brand abroad, which went from 106th to 73rd. There was also a nice rise in terms of the priority the government gives to tourism."
"The decline was mainly due to issues outside the responsibility of the Tourism Ministry, such as increased fuel costs, erosion of the dollar, and the heavy blow to services provided by ports and ground transportation," the report said. "Also, Israel did not ease its visa policies like other countries. The decline is also due to the fact that hotel prices significantly increased due to a shortage of hotel rooms."