(Photo: shutterstock) (Photo: shutterstock)

Over 3 million tourists chose Israel as their destination for rest and recreation, as well as a place of spirituality and pilgrimage.  

Tourism to Israel by country of origin

Tourism to Israel is on the rise. Israel was faced with numerous challenges over the course of 2014, but that did not deter the 3.3 million tourists arriving here throughout the year, as they chose this country as their destination of choice for vacation, recreation and leisure.

As in previous years, tourism from the USA continued to represent the largest country of origin for tourists coming to Israel, with 626,000 visitors arriving in 2014, 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 with196,000 and the United Kingdom with 179,000.

Many of the tourists came as pilgrims to the Holy Land. Christian tourists represented the bulk with 56%, and 24% were Jewish.

The majority of tourists – 58% – were in Israel for the first time, and 42% were returning visitors.

Jerusalem – Preferred Destination

(Photo: shutterstock)

(Photo: shutterstock)

The holy city of Jerusalem was the most visited, with 82% of tourists arriving in the capital. Tel Aviv-Jaffa holds second place with 67%,  the Dead Sea area came in third 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%).

Most tourists expressed a high level of satisfaction from their experience in Israel.

Total revenue from tourism in 2014 is estimated at about NIS 41 billion, a slight decrease in comparison to 2013. Some 110,000 Israelis were employed by the tourism industry in 2014.

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau stated: “This year, despite Operation Protective Edge, we succeeded in maintaining the same number of tourists and hotel overnights…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 added: “This year, we put our emphasis on digital marketing aimed at independent travelers who are keen to exploit the prices from the open skies policy and are ready to enjoy the [attractions] we have on offer – to run marathons in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee, cycle in the Negev, enjoy opera at Masada and in Akko, and to have fun in Tel Aviv.”