Opera Romana, the Vatican’s official travel agency, plans to add six weekly flights from Italy to Israel. Flights will leave from Naples, Sicily, Brescia, and Bergamo, bringing hundreds more tourists per week. Tourism Ministry officials said the increase was likely to lead to 7,000 more nightly hotel stays per week, particularly in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem areas.
Five thousand Italian tourists visited Israel in February of 2008, a 70 percent increase from the number of Italian visitors in February of 2007. Many of the tourists were Catholic pilgrims interested in visiting Christian religious sites.