Israel welcomes record-breaking 4.1 million tourists in 2018

“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel,” stated Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

From January through December 2018, 4,120,800 tourists were recorded in Israel – an increase of about 14% compared to the same period last year and a 42% increase over 2016, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Approximately 325,600 tourist entries to Israel were recorded in December alone – 12.2 percent more than December 2017 and 31% more than December 2017.

Revenue from tourism in 2018 reached about $5.8 billion (NIS 22 billion).

In 1978, Israel passed the 1 million tourist mark, 30 years after the establishment of the Jewish state. While it took 16 years to add the next one million tourists (in 1994) and 23 years to reach three million tourists (in 2017), it took just two more years to reach four million.

“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel,” stated Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

“This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world. Incoming tourism makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its’ image,” he said.

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Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi expressed optimism for the coming year, noting the opening of the Ilan and Assaf Ramon Airport in the Timna Valley in southern Israel, which “will enable us to continue bringing new flights to Eilat.”

“What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination,” he enthused.

The top six source countries to Israel for incoming tourism are the United States (897,100), France (346,000), Russia (316,000), Germany (262,500), UK (217,900) and Italy (150,600), the ministry said.

In 2018, 61% of all tourists were Christian, 22% were Jews, 12.1% were not affiliated, 1.8% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhists, 0.5% were Hindus, and 0.1% were Bahais and 1.7% others.

Forty percent of tourists who arrived in Israel in 2018 were had previously visited Israel, “proof that Israel is a desirable destination in the world,” according to the ministry.

In addition, in 2018, leading international market research firm EuroMonitor named Jerusalem as the fastest-growing tourism destination in the world.