The greatest increase was registered during the Hebrew month of Iyar which includes the Passover holiday, with 354,000 visitors.
The most impressive increase during the past year according to the Hebrew calendar was seen in the number of visitors arriving on cruise ships – an increase of 24%.
The fact that 5772 was a record year for incoming tourism is a great achievement given the severity of the global economic crisis (especially in Europe, which is the source of the largest countries providing tourism into Israel) and in light of the problematic geopolitical situation in the region.
Once again, tourism has proved itself to be an engine for positive economic growth this year. Revenue from incoming tourism stands at NIS 18 billion (about $4.6 billion), an increase of 10% and NIS 2 billion ($500 million) on last year.
The hotel industry has also enjoyed a significant awakening this last year. In 5772, the Tourism Ministry allocated grants for the construction of 18 new hotels that will add another 2,119 hotels to the room supply around the country.
From the start of the Hebrew year, the Tourism Ministry has approved 35 requests for grants to the value of NIS 248 million ($63 million) for renovation, expansion and construction of hotels. Half of these grant requests related to hotels in Jerusalem.
The accumulated investment total in all the grant applications submitted to the ministry in 5772 stands at about NIS 1 billion ($260 million).
Nine out of 18 new hotels to receive grants during the year were located in Jerusalem, adding 889 new rooms to the hotel supply. The total amount of the grants allocated to Jerusalem hotels in 5772 stands at NIS 184 million ($47 million).
In addition, the grant amount allocated by the Tourism Ministry to entrepreneurs interested in constructing or expanding hotels in Jerusalem has risen to up to 28% of the total investment which has contributed to the increased interest among investors in building in Jerusalem, which suffers from a serious shortfall in the hotel room supply.
“Against the background of the geopolitical challenges and the global economic crisis, the achievements are even greater," says Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov. "We will continue to work in the coming year to make a vacation in Israel more accessible, cheaper and more attractive for Israelis and tourists alike.”
The Tourism Ministry is currently preparing to welcome over 300,000 visitors who are expected to arrive in Israel over the period of the Jewish holidays. This preparation includes checking the readiness of hotels, the maintenance of tourist sites and their standard of cleanliness around the country, etc, in order to ensure a pleasant vacation experience for tourists and visitors.
The Israel Government Tourist Office in Jerusalem, Eilat, Nazareth and Ben-Gurion Airport will be operating normally throughout the holiday periods and the intermediate days of Sukkot.