The New York-based magazine Travel + Leisure has recently placed Jerusalem in second place and Tel Aviv in third place in its list of best cities in the Middle East and Africa.
Cape Town, South Africa, was rated first on the list, with Cairo and Dubai fourth and fifth, respectively. The results were compiled according to a readers’ survey.
This is the 16th year in a row that the annual survey has rated hotels, airlines, cities, spas, islands and more. The city category is divided into six regions, including Africa and the Middle East, Europe, Asia and more. Readers are asked to rate cities according to various criteria including sites, culture and art, food and restaurants, shopping, travel costs and more.
Travel + Leisure is considered one of the leading international tourism magazines, especially in English-speaking countries. The magazine is published monthly and reaches over a million readers worldwide, who use the information from the magazine to plan future trips.
Israel’s Minister of Tourism, Stas Miseznikov, welcomed the results of the survey, and stated that over the last two years the Tourism Ministry has reinforced its marketing activities throughout the world and has focused on creating a new image for Israel: the Holy Land with Jerusalem at its center, with a separate focus on the cities of Eilat and Tel Aviv.
Miseznikov noted that this new marketing initiative has significantly increased inbound tourism to Israel. As a result, 2010 was a record year in tourism to Israel, seeing an increase in both demand and the exposure of Israel’s main tourist attractions.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Tourism, during the first half of 2010 76 percent of tourists in Israel went to Jerusalem, visiting sites such as the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa, Yad Vashem and Mt. of Olives. One third of visitors in 2010 stayed overnight at hotels in the city, totaling 3.3 million bed nights – a 29 percent increase compared to 2009.
Tel Aviv, which placed third in the survey, attracts approximately 54% of tourists in Israel. 2.3 million bed nights were recorded in Tel Aviv throughout 2010, a 21 percent increase compared to 2009.
During the first half of 2011, 1.6 million tourists visited Israel, similar to the same time last year. June marked a new record, with 262,000 visitors to the country.