2013 was a record year for tourism to Israel, and 53% of visitors were Christian.

mountofolives“Tourism Ministry figures point to a new record in tourist entries to Israel in 2013 with more than 3.5 million visitors, a 0.5% increase from 2012,” reports Ynet News.

What I found most interesting in the story was that most tourists (53% were Christians), while only 28% were Jews.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the article:

Who were the tourists and why did they go to Israel?

  • Fifty-three percent of tourists were Christian, about half of them Catholics
  • 28% were Jewish, and the rest were members of other religions or people with no religious affiliation. 
  • Fifty-four percent of the tourists visited Israel for the first time in 2013; 46% had already been here before. 
  • Twenty-two percent defined the goal of their visit to Israel as a pilgrimage
  • 27% arrived for sightseeing and travel
  • 9% came for a vacation.
  • In total, 58% defined the goal of their visit as touristic, 26% arrived to see relatives and friends, and 8% came for businesses purposes and conferences.

What countries do they come from?

  1. The United States – 623,000 Americans, who make up 18% of Israel’s incoming tourism (a 1% increase from 2012).
  2. Russia — 603,000 tourists (a 3% increase from 2012)
  3. France — 315,000 tourists (a 5% increase from 2012).
  4. Germany — 254,000 visitors
  5. The United Kingdom — 217,000 visitors
  6. Italy — 173,000 visitors
  7. Ukraine — 134,000 visitors
  8. Poland — 89,000 visitors.
  9. Canada — 71,000 tourists
  10. Holland — 57,000.

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau said, “The year 2013 is a record year for tourism and we are proud of that. Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the security situation in the region, tourists voted with their feet….The Tourism Ministry will continue to invest in maintaining the numbers of tourists arriving in Israel, by opening new markets and actively marketing the tourism product around the world. I wish all tourists a happy 2014.”

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