hotelsצילום: FREEPIK

Despite the ongoing tumultuous protests in Israel, following the proposed judicial overhaul, which sparked widespread historic demonstrations that sooned turned into an attempt to overthrow the government and then evidenced clearly anti-religious goals - tourism in the country continues to thrive against all odds.

Most recent estimates released by the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed that tourism in Israel is still somewhat 13 percent below pre-Covid levels, as more than 2.11 million foreign visitors entered the country during the first half of the year.

On paper, these figures present a promising rebound of the domestic tourism industry, since arrivals of foreign visitors nearly doubled compared to last year.

In 2022, nearly 1.04 million visitors entered the country during the period of January to June, however, current estimates are still well below the same recorded period of 2019, when more than 2.42 million visitors arrived in Israel.

However, now that the pandemic-era restrictions have been lifted, and several new flight routes added, tourists are arriving in droves, as the warmer climate and widespread cultural attractions see millions of foreigners entering the country.

Americans are choosing Israel

Despite the challenging political conditions, both in Israel and the United States, data shows that American tourism to Israel has hit a new peak in recent months.

Tourists arriving from the U.S. were up 12% in the Jewish state during the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2019.

Israeli Commissioner of Tourism to North America, Eyal Carlin, said that although there is still a way to go before the tourism sector can make up for the lost time during the pandemic years, the current statistics are an extremely encouraging indication that things are starting to rebound.

Improved flight routes and increased savings have left American tourists eager to explore the Middle East, and Israel seems to be at the top of their list.

During the month of June, considered to be a peak travel time for tourists in the northern hemisphere, more than 355,200 foreign visitors arrived in Israel. On top of this, further estimates suggest that there were an additional 322,900 tourists that stayed over at least one night in the country.

Looking forward, officials currently predict that the country would have welcomed more than 3.9 million foreign tourists by the end of the year. This is still slightly below the recorded 4.55 million foreign visitors that arrived in the country back in 2019 before the pandemic, but there are several months left to the end of the year.

Comparatively speaking, these figures present a more promising sight for the overall tourism industry compared to last year.

The most recent reports are still slightly below that recorded in June 2019, when Israel welcomed 384,000 foreign visitors, but still above June 2022, which saw more than 252,400 visitors.

The sweltering heat hasn’t done much to dampen tourists' eagerness to visit the Jewish state. Between May and July, Israel's Meteorological Service issued a heatwave advisory warning, predicting that large parts of the country will experience boiling heat waves.

Temperatures were expected to rise to a peak of 42-46 degrees Celsius (107-114 degrees Fahrenheit) in the eastern part of the country, while along the south-central region and the coast, the mercury was expected to reach 30-32 degrees Celsius (86-89 F.)

The extreme heatwave experienced across large parts of the northern hemisphere, including places in Europe and the U.S., didn’t do much to deter tourists.

Jerusalem voted top tourist destination

Another promising indication that Israel’s tourism industry is steadily rebounding, comes after a recent article published by The Jerusalem Post, which named Israel, more specifically, Jerusalem, one of the best destinations for foreign tourists looking to have a summer getaway. Due to the Jewish hoidays, this continues through fall.

The news article highlighted some of the top travel destinations for tourists seeking to visit the top travel destinations around the world.

Israel scored the highest, with an overall score of 74 out of 100, due to the fact that the country sees minimal rainy days during the summer, and the overall enjoyable warmer weather makes it one of the best places to visit from May to August. The country is filled with tourists during the fall Sukkot holiday as well.

Another winning factor was the fact that Israel sees among the most daylight hours, compared to other countries that made the top finalist.

On average, summer daylight hours peak around 12 hours each day, and decrease to roughly 9 hours per day in the autumn seasons.

Other destinations that also made the top three, include Marrakech, Morocco, and Goa, India and Faro, Portugal, among several others.

Despite the travelers having seen the price of airfare and other travel costs slightly increase over the last year, as pent-up demand and inflation further drive up prices, Israel’s tourism industry is on track to gain full recovery due to the high number of arrivals, cultural attractions, and overall warmer climate.

Most recent consumer price inflation has matched that of other developed nations, including the U.S.Year-over-year inflation for June fell to 4.2 percent, a decrease from the 4.6 percent measured in May. After peaking in February at 5.2%, inflation has gradually fallen, keeping on track with the country’s efforts to stabilize its economic performance following the pandemic.

Tel Aviv witnessed the sharpest fall in prices, following the most recent inflation data, with prices going down 1.1 percent. Jerusalem witnessed an uptick in prices by 0.3 percent.

Other areas that also noticed cooling prices, were fuel, coming down from its all-time high of 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Fruits and vegetables decreased by 4.6 percent, clothing by 3 percent and furniture was down 0.8 percent.

In July, the Bank of Israel kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 4.75%, after initiating a series of interest rate hikes, increasing it from its record low of 0.1% from January 2022, as the consumer cool-down has kicked in, and prices continue to decrease.

Despite macroeconomic challenges, driven by inflationary pressure, and seeing waves of protests breaking out across the country, Israel’s tourism is starting to peak again, and officials are hopeful that the coming months will bring further improvements.

Jacob Wolinskyis the founder and CEO of ValueWalk - a well-known financial media service. Before launching ValueWalk, he was an equity analyst at a micro-cap-focused private equity firm and then moved to a small/mid-cap value-focused research shop and worked in business development for hedge funds. He lives with his family in Passaic, New Jersey.