Over four million travelers hitting Ben Gurion Airport over next two months

In the arrivals department, more than 80,000 tourists are booked to enter Israel on the eve of the Jewish New Year alone.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

After two years of a world slowdown in tourism due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Israel Airports Authority has announced that over four million Israelis and foreigners are expected to crowd into Ben Gurion International Airport in September and October, Channel 13 reported Sunday.

Back on July 10, media outlets celebrated that the millionth tourist of 2022 had entered Ben Gurion Airport, some four months after travel restrictions were gradually lifted.

Then in August alone, due to traditional summer vacation time – coupled with a two-year, pent-up desire to trek, voyage and get away – the number of people both entering and leaving Israel jumped to 2.2 million.

Israel’s three airlines – El Al, IsraAir and Arkia – took first, third and fourth place respectively in conveying those passengers to and from the country, with Turkish Airlines and Wizz Air rounding out the top five carriers. All together, they took off and landed with more than a million people between them to enjoy Israel as well as such countries as the U.S., Turkey, Greece, Italy and the UK – the top destinations scheduled for September.

Now, the High Holiday season is approaching, with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, kicking off three weeks of religious festivities on September 25.

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More than 80,000 people are booked to fly either to or from Israel on New Year’s eve alone, with this number being matched 10 days later following the Yom Kippur fast, and again four days later, on the eve of the Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles) holiday.

Although this is welcome news for the local economy, 2022 is unlikely to be a record-breaking year for Israeli tourism, as the high so far was in 2019, when some 4.8 million tourist entries were recorded. Still, it is good news for almost 10% of the Israeli workforce, which as of 2018 was either directly or indirectly employed in Israel’s tourist industry, according to OECD statistics.

According to the Tourism Ministry, 29% of travelers to Israel come to visit family and friends, a quarter arrive to sight-see, and 19% come to experience the religious holidays in the Holy Land. A whopping 44% are return visitors.