Israel is definitely the place to be! Last month’s numbers mean that the first half of the year has been a record breaker, with some 1.6 million tourists visiting the Holy Land so far in 2010. That’s a whopping 39% increase on the same period last year, and a nice little 10% up on Israel’s finest ever year, 2008.
June 2010 itself set a new record, with some 259,000 visitors popping over to Israel. This is some 24% up on June last year. And of those 259,000, some 214,000 stayed at least one night in the Holy Land. There was a notable rise too in the number of cruise ship stopover tourists, with some 8500 visitors meaning an increase of 700% on last year!
If you were wondering of the impact of all these tourists on the Israeli economy, estimates indicate that income from tourism only (excluding air travel) reached $1.55 billion in the first half of 2010. That’s up some 35% over the same period for 2009.
A happy Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov had this to say:
The increase in incoming tourism during the first half of this year should not be taken for granted. It is the result of massive investment in marketing activities around the world with significant budgets, especially against the background of the public diplomacy challenges that Israel is facing.
Therefore, especially now, it is necessary to increase the ministry’s budget in order to continue and increase its activities, because the lack of a serious budget will take us backwards and adversely impact on continued growth, revenue and employment. The tourism industry is one of the industries that generate employment and revenue at the fastest and most efficient rate in the economy. Significant government investment in this industry will lead to the creation of thousands of new jobs, most of them in the periphery, and revenue of hundreds of thousands of shekels into the economy.
All we can say to those of you thinking of visiting Israel is…Come on over, the water’s lovely! Oh, and there’s plenty of awesome things to see and do in Israel…