In an interview with Arutz Sheva at the 2017 International Tourism Exhibition in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) outlined his hopes and goals for coming year.

"I think that the potential of tourism to Israel is huge," Levin said. "We made a lot of changes, a real revolution in all of our attitudes. It was a much larger budget, in order to really attract more tourists to Israel... We are putting a lot of emphasis on new markets - China and India, for example.

"The real challenge is to really attract here new tourists that are looking for vacations, that are looking for sea and sun. You know, I always say that coming to Israel is not just for praying before you die. It's to come to live, to enjoy life.

"I think we should separate completely between issues that are politically in conflict and between the ability of a tourist to come here and to feel safe and to enjoy what Israel, the holy land, has to offer.

"I do believe - and we saw it last year - that doing the right work in marketing, with expanding flight routes to Israel, gives us the ability to attract much more tourists," Levin explained. "Here is something that we can really achieve, and I can assure you that we'll see a continuous growth in 2017.

"I think that...the media...all put an image of Israel that is very, very different than the reality... Tourists who are coming here are so surprised, they tell me, 'We didn't believe its like that, we now understand what you're talking about. We see how modern Israel is, how much better the life here in Israel is in comparison to every place near Israel or in the whole region.'

"Everyone who believes in democracy, everyone who wants to live as a free man or woman, must understand that a strong Israel is something crucial in order to achieve it.

"We are fighting here not only for the rights of the Israeli cities, we are doing something that is important to every free man and woman in the world. And I can assure you that because we are strong, and we create stability.

"We create a very very peaceful environment here, and I think that every tourist that comes here, really feels it from his first step on Israeli lands," he concluded.