Monday, January 5, 2015

Since we, and our thousands of pilgrims, travel to Israel many times a year, I thought these statistics were very interesting. Of all 3.3 million in 2014 not one was hurt or in danger. The media makes it sound like Israel is dangerous. The facts and statistics on the group prove they are wrong.

We are now on a flight from Tel Aviv back home to the US. We had a wonderful “Christmas Pilgrimage” and went home with tears of joy and sadness about leaving. We also had our daughter Charlotte and her husband Wes. It was a perfect pilgrimage and everyone laughed at those who told them it would be dangerous. We had a marvelous time.


Despite Operation Protective Edge, the number of tourists in 2014 remains similar to that in 2013, thanks to the significant increase in the first half of 2013. (Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism/ Ministry of Tourism Statistics Department) 

  • Leading source countries for incoming tourism: USA, Russia, France and Germany
  • 56% of incoming tourists were Christian
  • Tourism’s contribution to the economy: about NIS 41 billion
  • Satisfaction levels range from very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5)

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: “This year, despite Operation Protective Edge, we succeeded in maintaining the same number of tourists and hotel overnights, mainly as a result of the Israeli response to the “Vacation in Israel Now” campaign in the midst of the Operation. Israeli vacationers filled the hotels in the peak season of August, thereby supporting businesses in outlying areas and the Israeli economy…”

 Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi: “This year, we put our emphasis on digital marketing aimed at independent travelers (FITs), who are keen to exploit the prices from the open skies policy and are ready to enjoy the city breaks we have on offer – to run marathons in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee, to cycle in the Negev, to enjoy opera at Masada and in Akko, and to have fun in Tel Aviv.”

Tourism by mode of travel

 Out of 3.3 million visitors, 2.5 million arrived by air (78%), a decrease of 2% compared to 2013. About 400,000 came through the land borders (12%), a 5% increase compared to 2013.

 Tourism by country of origin 

 As in previous years, tourism from the USA continued to represent the largest country of origin for incoming tourism to Israel, with 626,000 visitors arriving in 2014, (representing 19% of all incoming tourism), 1% more than 2013. In second place is tourism from Russia with 567,000 visitors, a decrease of 6%. Tourism from France takes third place, with about 301,000 visitors, followed by Germany (196,000) and the United Kingdom (179,000).

 Tourism to Israel: characteristics

  • 56% of incoming tourism was Christian tourism (41% of which is Catholic, 26% Protestant and 22% Russian Orthodox), 24% Jewish tourism, with the remaining of other religious denominations or non affiliated.
  • 58% of tourists were first time visitors, and 42% returning visitors.
  • 21% defined their visit as part of a pilgrimage, 26% as tour and travel, 11% as vacation and leisure. Overall, 58% defined their visit for tourism purposes, 23% visited friends or relatives and 11% came for business or to attend conventions.
  • 27% came as part of an organized tour, 10% on a package deal, and 63% came as FITs (frequent individual tourists).
  • 64% of tourists stayed in hotels, 22% stayed with friends or relatives and 5% stayed in youth hostels, 1% stayed in religious hostels. 6% stayed in rented or owned apartments. 

Cities and sites visited

 Jerusalem is the city most visited by incoming tourists in Israel, (82% of all tourists). Tel Aviv-Jaffa holds second place with 67% of all tourists having visited and in third place, the Dead Sea area with 54%. Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee holds fourth place with 38% of all tourists followed by the Galilee area with 34%.

The most visited sites in 2014 include the Western Wall (74%), the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem (68%), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (59%) and the Via Dolorosa (53%) and the Mount of Olives (52%).

 Tourist satisfaction

The satisfaction level of tourists visiting Israel in 2013 was very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5 – excellent). Services that received a high rating included: archeological sites (4.5); tour guides and organized tours (4.4); personal security (4.3). Among those services which did not rate so highly: public bathrooms (3.5),  taxis (3.4), and value for money (3.1). 

 Tourism’s contribution to the Israeli economy

 Total revenue from tourism in 2014 is estimated at about NIS 41 billion, a slight decrease on 2013. 

 The number of employees in the Israeli economy as a result of tourism activities totals about 110,000 in 2014, approximately one third of whom are employed in hotels. The total number of employees in the tourism industry (direct and indirect) stands at about 200,000, 6% of all employees in Israel.

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