2010: Record year for tourism (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Ziv Reinstein Published: 12.30.10, 10:24)
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Some 3.45 million tourists visit Israel in past year, Tourism
Ministry reports. While security checks don´t seem to be bothering
them, tourists see room for improvement in cleanliness of public
areas, taxi services
Record broken – just in time for New Year. The Tourism Ministry
summarized the year in Tourism for 2010 on Monday and announced that
since January 3.45 million tourists visited Israel. This is an
estimate as the year isn´t quite over – the final figures will be
released in tow weeks.
Surveys carried out by the ministry among visiting tourists included
a poll rating visitor satisfaction from one to five. Among the
services receiving the highest marks were archeological sites (4.6),
tour guides (4.4), airports and even security checks (4.3). The
lowest marks went to cab services (3.8), stores and cleanliness in
public areas (3.9).
It should be mentioned that the issue of filth and neglect in tourism
sites in many cities around Israel has just recently been brought up
in the state comptroller´s report.
While presenting the data Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov stated
that in 2011 the ministry would set aside resources for marketing
Israel in Christian communities in India (close to 150 million),
Poland and South Korea. He repeated his promise to promote the
establishment of Casinos in Arad, Mitzpe Ramon and Eilat.
The previous record of 3 million tourists a year was broken just over
a month ago with the arrival of a group of Christians from Brazil.
The Tourism Ministry said that the growth trend has been felt in
nearly every month since October 2009. The number of tourists in 2010
represents an increase of 700 thousand of the tourists that arrived
in Israel in the previous year and 400 thousand more than the
previous record holding year, 2008.
´Religious tourism´ still a winner
According to the data, 66% of tourists arriving in Israel stated that
the purpose of their trip was a pilgrimage, recreational or an
excursion. 17% were in Israel to visit friends and relatives and 15%
were in Israel for business purposes.
In Misezhnikov´s opinion, Israel is not a rest and recreation
country," like Turkey or Cyprus and so he made sure to position
Israel as the holy land with Jerusalem at its center, as tourists
from around the world flock to Jerusalem.
"They come because of religion but stay because of other reasons:
Bird watching, wine, bike tours and other attractions," the minister
Surveys carried out by the ministry in the past year reveal that
Jerusalem is the touristiest city, with over 76% of tourists
visiting. Tel Aviv came in second with 54%. The cities that follow in
the rankings are: The Dead Sea (49%), Tiberias (42%) and Nazareth
The high tide has reached the Palestinian Authority which has also
witnessed a rise in tourism, mainly of pilgrimage trips. According to
Misezhnikov during the Christmas period alone, 90,000 visited the
"The Palestinians are making profits because of us and prospering
thanks to tourists who visit Israel," Misezhnikov stated and added
that "this in spite of their Tourism Minister´s refusal to meet with
US and Russia in top spots
In the past year, 19% of the tourists came from the US. Russia came
in at second place with 15% of the tourist total. France contributed
with nine percent while Britain and Germany each sent over a total of
five percent of Israel´s tourists.
In the spirit of the end of the civil year, the ministry stated that
according to their estimations, 69% of the incoming tourists are
Christians, 23% are Jews and the rest either listed their religion
as ´other´ or don´t see themselves as a member of any religion. Over
50% of the tourists were visiting Israel for the first time.
Israelis vacationing more
And what of ´Mr. Israel´s´ vacationing habits? A little over 16
million Israeli tourist lodgings were noted in the past year. The
Tourism Ministry noted that data for Israeli vacations reveals a rise
of just four percent in comparison with the previous year. Youth
hostels and country lodgings noted a 12% surge while hotels had to
make do with an increase of just one percent.
2010 saw a rise of seven percent in the number of Israelis heading
abroad, when compared with 2009. When compared with the record
breaking year – 2008, that is a rise of just one percent.
Regional tourism flourishing
It should be mentioned that the number of tourists entering Israel
includes those that enter through the Allenby Border Crossing in the
Palestinian Authority, as well as visitors that pass through Israel
for a one day tour one their way to neighboring countries.
That said, the same counting system was in place during the record
breaking tourism year of 2008. The Tourism Ministry made sure to
mention that there was also a rise in the number of tourists coming
to Israel for more than one day, compared to previous years.
Meanwhile, not everyone in the tourism industry is enjoying the
recent statistics. The Chairman of the Israel Hotel Association
Shmuel Tzurel recently warned that "they are smug over visitor
numbers which include day-trippers whose contribution to the economy
can be negative".
In addition, the Tourism Ministry and various tourism sources agree
with the claim that there is a severe shortage in the number of
hotels in Israel – there is no suitable infrastructure to absorb the
growing number of tourists if the rise in numbers continues.
Looking at the bigger picture it would seem that the entire Middle
East is enjoying resurgence in the tourism sector. Jordanian, Syrian,
Lebanese and even Palestinian tourism sources reported an
unprecedented number of tourists visiting within their borders in
recent months. (Copyright 2010 © Yedioth Internet 12/30/10)
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