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Tourists Ignore War Threats, Flock to Israel in Record Numbers

Israel continues to attract tourists despite talk of war with Iran. The all-time high for tourism was broken last month.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/13/2012, 10:12 AM

Bicycling with Dead Sea in background
Bicycling with Dead Sea in background
Reuters

Israel continues to attract tourists from around the world despite general Middle East instability and talk of war with Iran.

The all-time high for incoming tourists was broken in February, with an increase of six percent in visitors compared with the same month last year.

"The increased momentum of tourism to Israel is the result of focused and intensive international marketing activity in spite of regional turmoil and the ongoing economic crisis in Europe. The Ministry of Tourism will continue its marketing operations worldwide, with emphasis on the markets of China, India, South Korea, Russia and South America,” said Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov

The number of visitors in February reached 232,000, four percent higher than the previous record for the same month, which was set in 2010.  

A large increase was recorded in the number of day visitors – 55 percent higher than in February 2011 – indicating that more tour operators are including Israel on their agendas for multi-nation trips.

Another significant change was in the number of visitors passing through land borders, primarily Egypt. Four times as many visitors passed through land borders than they did in February 2011, when the anti-Mubarak "Arab Spring" uprising began.

The number of visitors by air has increased by one percent so far this year, compared with the same period in 2011.

The booming tourist industry has sparked a rush to build more hotels and has created further demand for construction workers as well as for workers in hotels, restaurants and tourist sites.

The Kotel (Western Wall), the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Center and Museum, and the Dead Sea/Masada Fortress continue to rate among the top tourist attractions for visitors.