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.
As in previous years, the United States remains the largest single source country for incoming tourism with about 610,000 visitors, representing 18% of all tourism to the country and a drop of 4% on last year.
In second place and with a very small margin is tourism from Russia with 590,000 visitors, 20% more than 2011.
Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem (Photo: Ziv Reinstein)
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.
Some 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 ½% in rural tourism.
Increase of 4% in hotel stays (Illustration photo: Index Open)
Revenues from incoming tourism in 2012 (including the income of the Israeli aviation companies from inbound tourism) total about NIS 17.8 billion or $4.6 billion (an increase of 8% - largely due to the increase in the dollar rate).
Revenues from domestic tourism in 2012 total about NIS 10.3 billion NIS (3% more than in 2011), and another NIS 8 billion in revenue from outbound tourism – similar to 2011.
Total revenue from tourism in 2012 is estimated at about NIS 36 billion, 4% more than in 2011.
According to Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, "These achievements are a reflection of the intensive and professional work of the past three years, when tourism became a main engine for growth in the economy with a rise in revenues and the creation of new jobs.
"Making tourism a preferred national industry will strengthen Israel in economic, image and advocacy terms."