We think it’s about time you joined the party (if you haven’t already) – 2017 was a record-breaking year for tourism, with some 3.6 million tourists visiting Israel in 2017, 25% up on 2016!
Earlier in the year it had looked on for a record year, and with a relatively quiet home front, Israel looked even more enticing than usual. I mean, what’s not to like…all that hummus, gorgeous beaches, amazing attractions, and yes, oodles of sunshine!
And all those tourists mean a big boost for Israel’s economy, with the Ministry of Tourism stating that incoming tourism in 2017 added some 20 billion shekels to the state coffers. Interestingly, spending per tourist in the first half of 2017 was $1,600 and $162 per day, with most of that going on accommodation ($617); other expenses include transportation, tours, and sites ($245); food and beverages ($200); and shopping ($168).
Where do most tourists come from?
By far and away, most tourists are arriving from the US – in fact, 2017 saw over 700,000 tourists, 21% up on 2016. Russia was in second place with 307,000 tourists, a 26% increase. Next up was France, with 284,000 tourists, 8% up on 2016, followed by Germany with 202,000 tourists, 34% up on 2016, and the UK, which sent over some 185,000 tourists to Israel, 10% up on 2016.
One important market to watch out for is the Chinese – 2017 saw 105,000 Chinese visitors to Israel, and that number could rise very rapidly as more flights are added and more Chinese become aware of Israel as a true vacation hotspot.
Just why do tourists come…?
Well, despite the obvious delights of Israeli food and attractions, 59% of the tourists who visited Israel this year were actually here for the first time. 25% described the purpose of their visit as religious, meaning a pilgrimage, 23% as touring and hiking, and 10% as entertainment and enjoyment.
24% came to visit relatives and friends, and 11% for business and being an emissary. 30% of the tourists came on organized trips and 64% independently, while 6% purchased tourist packages.
Where do all those tourists stay?
According to numbers from the Israel Hotel Association, 63% of tourists to Israel stayed in hotels overnight, 21% of tourists stayed with relatives and friends, while 5% stayed in hostels, and 7% in rented apartments.
There are some truly great options out there for the independent traveler; we’ve listed the top 10 hostels in Israel here, while take your pick from some excellent accommodation options for all budgets and requirements right here.
Where do they visit?
We have a feeling that most people manage to check off most of the options on our Top 10 list, but statistically 78% of incoming tourists visited Jerusalem, followed by Tel Aviv-Jaffa (67%), the Dead Sea (49%), and Tiberias and the Galilee region (35%).
All in all, a very good year for tourism! We’ve seen it on iGoogledIsrael too, with a big rise in traffic (we had 1.2 million visitors to the site in 2017!), and huge interest in many of our excellent and highly recommended tours.
With predictions of 4 million visitors to Israel in 2018, things are very much happening here – and yes, if you haven’t already booked your ticket, do it now before the stampede kicks in!