Over 936,000 tourists have visited Israel since January 2008, a 41% rise compared to the same period of time in 2007.
According to the Director-General of the Tourism Ministry, Shaul Tzemah, the current growth rate is congruent to the ministry’s goals, which aspires to bring 2.8 million tourists to Israel a year.
Tzemah said on Monday that the current number of rooms in hotels and guesthouses will be insufficient for the projected tourism figures for the coming years.
At least 2,500 rooms must be built and budgets need to be increased for the construction of additional hotels.
Tzemah says the Tourism Ministry has been sounding the alarm regarding the hotel crisis for some time now.
“Tourism Ministry efforts to see at least 2.8 million tourists come here in 2008 (an increase of more than 20% overall) and 5 million tourists by 2012 are in danger of seeing a shortage of almost 15,000 within several short years if new rooms aren’t built.
"The expected economic damage to the Tourism Ministry and to the market in general as a result of this shortage will be tens of millions of dollars a year,” Tzemah added.
Some 1,066,000 Israelis traveled abroad the first four months of 2008, a 3% rise compared to the same period in 2007.
But despite an overall increase in outgoing tourism, a significant drop (28.4%) was recorded in the number of Israelis traveling to Egypt's Sinai resorts, a long-time popular destination for holidaymakers.
Only 39,500 Israelis made their way to the sunny Sinai beaches in 2008, compared to the 55,000 who traveled between January and April of 2007.