French tourists on Tel Aviv’s Gordon Beach.
French tourists on Tel Aviv’s Gordon Beach. Israelis tend to stay away until summer ends. Photo by Tal Cohen
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More than 2.8 million tourists visited Israel in 2010 so far, a figure 27 percent higher than the year before, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday.

The Tourism Ministry reported that the gross income from tourism by August 2010 was over $2.3 billion, a rise of 37 percent from the previous year.

Tourism Minister Stas Mesezhnikov, who was in the United Kingdom on Wednesday representing Israel at the WTM, the world's second largest tourism fair, praised the statistics and said that they "express the revolution the tourism ministry, the tourist industry and Israel's image is undergoing, becoming a tourist attraction for the country and the world."

He added that tourism should be considered one of the highest priorities on the national agenda.

According to the CBS report, the number of tourists so far this year (through October) has exceeded the number who visited Israel in the same period of time in 2008 - a year with over 3 million tourists.