Israel has set another tourism record. According to the Ministry of Tourism, in 2012 Israel welcomed 3.5 million tourists to the country, up 4 percent from 2011 and ahead of the 2010 record of 3.45 million.
The most tourists arrived from the United States (610,000) and the second most from Russia (590,000). Total tourism output this year is estimated at NIS 36 billion (about $9 billion), 4% more than in 2011.
Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot provides more details:
- 58% was Christian tourism, 23% Jewish tourism.
- 62% of tourists visited Israel this year for the first time.
- 29% defined the purpose of their visit to Israel as a pilgrimage, 24%were touring and sightseeing, 9% visited for recreation. In total 62% defined the purpose of the visit as tourism. 20% to visit friends and relatives, 12% for business and conferences.
- 75% of tourists stayed in hotels, 16% with relatives / friends, 5% youth and Christian hostels and 4% owned or rented apartments.
Jerusalem had the most tourists, with Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea registering the second and third most visits.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said the data “reflect the achievements of the professional and hard work of the last three years.”