Israel records huge surge in tourists but uncertainty prevails

Published on : Thursday, May 10, 2018

Israel witnesses record-breaking visitor numbers this yearIsrael welcomed 1.36 million tourists in January-April 2018 but security tensions are causing concern that last year’s record 3.6 million tourists may not be surpassed. The Ministry of Tourism plans to increase the number of tourists this year through marketing efforts, but the current security threat is now casting a shadow over this optimism, because the tourist sector will be the first to respond through tourists staying away from Israel.

In April 2018, 408,000 tourists entered Israeli, 17 per cent more than in April 2017, when 350,000 visited Israel. The Ministry of Tourism says that revenue from tourists in April exceeded NIS 2.1 billion.

The Ministry of Tourism is also optimistic about taking advantage of the momentum created by the exposure gained by Israel in the Giro d’Italia events. Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, “We estimate that over 500 million people worldwide have been exposed to the Ministry of Tourism campaign to date through various media.”

Almost 18,000 tourists came from Poland one of the countries cited by the Ministry of Tourism as a target. This number of tourists was 146% more than last year.

The number of visitors from Asian countries totaled just 35,700, still a very low number, but 32% more than in the preceding year. Fewer than 10,000 tourists visited from China in April, a 24% increase, following a decline in the preceding month. The presence of Air India is also having an effect – 9,400 Indian tourists came in April, a 45% increase.

At a conference of the Israel Hotel Association this week, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin commented on the grants that his ministry was providing to foreign airlines that introduce new routes to Israel. “We invested NIS 100 million in grants for airlines. This investment has proved to be extremely worthwhile,” he said.

Levin also referred to the winter campaign in which the number of flights to Eilat averaged 47 a week, compared with only four flights four years ago. He commented, “This is being extended to Western Europe; next year we will see flights from Madrid and Zurich.”

The Ministry of Tourism’s current budget is NIS 1.2 billion. “Even if there is some security event or other, we will be able to recover quickly and regain the high levels of tourism. It is easier to regain something that exists than to create something that never was,” Levin explained.

Levin noted that the Hotel Association in Eilat had decided to discontinue its NIS 3 million contribution to the campaign, declaring, “This is a big mistake, but we will accept it. It was an important substantial partnership, which will now unfortunately end. Nevertheless, the ministry is committed to continuing the campaign.”

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