2012 Tourism Sets All-Time Record

By the end of December, about 3.5 million visitors will have arrived in Israel, 4% more than in 2011 - and a new record

David Lev ,

Airplane landing at Ben Gurion
Airplane landing at Ben Gurion
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Tourism in Israel is up for 2012, the Tourism Ministry said Sunday. By the end of December, about 3.5 million visitors will have arrived in Israel, 4% more than in 2011. Tourists (not including day visitors) account for 2.9 million entries, 2% more than in 2011. Despite the downturn that occurred in the last month and a half as a result of Operation Pillar of Defense, this year sets a new record for incoming tourism to Israel, the Ministry said.

As in previous years, the USA remains the largest single source country for incoming tourism, with about 610,000 visitors, representing 18% of all tourism to the country, but with a drop of 4% on last year. In second place was Russia, which sent 590,000 to Israel, 20% more than 2011.

Out of 3.5 million visitors, 2.5 million arrived by air (70%), an increase of 1% compared to 2011. About 406,000 came through the land borders (12%), an increase of 6% compared to 2011. 625,000 entries (18%) were one-day visitors, an increase of 15%: of these 235,000 came on cruise ships, a similar number to 2011.

About 16.5 million domestic overnight stays were registered in 2012 in all the various types of accommodation, 3% more than last year. There was an increase of 4% in hotel stays, 2% in youth hostels and 0.5% in rural tourism.

Revenue from incoming tourism in 2012 (including the income of the Israeli aviation companies from inbound tourism) totals about NIS 17.8 billion ($4.6 billion). Revenue from domestic tourism in 2012 totals about NIS 10.3 billion (3% more than in 2011). Total revenue from tourism in 2012 is estimated at about NIS 36 billion, 4% more than in 2011.

Commenting on the figures, Tourism Minister Stas Miseszhnikov said that “these achievements are a reflection of the intensive and professional work of the past three years, when tourism has become a major engine of growth in the economy, with a rise and revenue and the creation of new jobs. Tourism, a preferred national industry, is strengthening Israel's economy, image, and advocacy.”