Foreign tourism bounces back in Jerusalem

 Saturday, May 20, 2023 


Foreign tourists are flocking to Israel’s capital again, but the number of visitors has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report released on Wednesday, a day ahead of Jerusalem Day.

Jerusalem on Thursday marks the 56th anniversary of its reunification in the 1967 Six-Day War with celebratory events being throughout the capital, including the annual flag march through the Old City.

The Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research’s 37th Statistical Yearbook of Jerusalem presents a comprehensive picture of the city’s situation.

Last year saw double the number of international visitors compared to 2021, with room occupancy in city hotels at 55 per cent in 2022 versus just 22 per cent the previous year.

However, in 2019, before the pandemic, occupancy stood at 72 per cent.

Hotel revenues last year reached 2 billion shekels (USD549 million), marking a 181% increase compared to 2021 but still well below 2019’s record of 2.5 billion shekels (USD 686 million).

Jerusalem in 2022 was the top destination in Israel for foreign visitors in terms of overnight stays at 34 per cent, but was far less popular among Israelis, drawing only 8per cent of overnight stays compared with figures of 42per cent for Eilat, 11per cent for the Dead Sea and 8% for Tel Aviv.

After three challenging years of Covid-19, which devastated tourism to the city, it’s heartening to see Jerusalem gradually returning to the levels of activity we had before the outbreak of the pandemic, said Dr David Koren, CEO of the Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research.

The report noted several other key findings.

Jerusalem, Israel’s most populous city is approaching one million residents.

More than 1.4 million people live in the greater Jerusalem area in 80 localities surrounding Israel’s capital.

The median age of Jerusalemites at the end of last year was 24.2 years, compared to 30.1 for Israel at large. Children ages 0-14 represent 33 per cent of the city’s population.

The fertility rate of 3.9 last year was significantly higher than the general Israeli fertility rate of 3 and even higher compared to Tel Aviv (1.9) and Haifa (2.1).

The birth rate for Jewish women in Jerusalem was 4.4, while for Arab women in the city the figure was 3.1.

The poverty rate in Jerusalem is significantly higher than overall in Israel with 39 per cent of Jerusalem’s families (125,900) living below the poverty line last year.

About half of Jerusalem’s children (202,400) live below the poverty line.

Jerusalem is in the midst of a revolutionary shift that is already making its mark: the city is prospering and growing, and its businesses and tourism are on the rise, remarked Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.

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