Tourism Soaring in Holy Land

A new report confirms December 2009 as the most visitor-laden December in Israeli history.

Malkah Fleisher, | updated: 11:46

Buyers at Israel's Hebrew Book Week
Buyers at Israel's Hebrew Book Week
Beny Shlevich

Israeli tourism is soaring higher than the planes that bring it.  A new report issued by the Ministry of Tourism and the Central Bureau of Statistics proudly proclaims December 2009 the most visitor-laden December in Israeli history, in which 225,000 tourists set foot on the Holy Land.

The number is a substantial 11% increase from the same month in 2008.

Overall, 2.7 million tourists visited Israel in 2009, 10% less than in 2008, making 2009 the second highest tourism year on record. The statistics for 2008 were 35% higher than those for 2007.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said his ministry is beginning 2010 with a bang, aiming to achieve a goal of a million additional tourists a year by the end of 2012. According to Misezhnikov, that would pour an additional NIS 18.5 billion into the economy and increase tourism-related employment to 190,000 people.

Streamlining bureaucratic processes, increasing services, promotion, and information to tourists, and extending visa waivers to tourists from certain countries are some of the areas of improvement the Tourism Ministry said it is attacking as a means of increasing tourism to the Holy Land.