Israel Sees All-time Monthly High for Incoming Tourism in April 2017

Flights are getting cheaper, hostels and new flights are abounding, and tourists are avoiding Turkey and other places spooked by terror

A Tel Aviv beach.
Tomer Appelbaum

Israel saw an all-time high in incoming tourism for April as some 349,000 tourists entered the country, an 38% increase from the same month a year ago.

The figure is the highest number for any month in Israel’s history, the Tourism Ministry said.

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Foreign tourists have brought 6 billion shekels ($1.67 billion) to Israel’s economy so far this year, the ministry added.

Some 1.09 million tourists visited Israel between January and April of this year, a 28% increase from the same period in 2016, which saw 850,000 tourists. Some 964,000 tourists arrived by air, a 24% increase, and a 22% increase from the same period in 2015.

Ministry officials said there were several reasons behind the rise. First, vacations in Israel are getting significantly cheaper; there are cheaper flights, and Israel now has more hostels, which are cheaper than hotels.

“Lots of tourists who arrive on low-cost flights sleep in nice hostels in Eilat, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Mitzpeh Ramon,” the ministry source said.

In addition, new flights are being offered to the southern resort town of Eilat, and there are now direct flights from cities including London, Budapest and St. Petersburg.

Plus, formerly popular vacation destinations such as Turkey are now less popular due to fears of terror.

“The modern tourist now realizes that no place in the world is safe. Terror can hit anywhere, including the United States and Europe, so it has become less of a factor,” the ministry source said.

The ministry said another factor was the dramatic increase in its budget advertising Israel abroad. The ministry invested 480 million shekels in advertising Israel, mainly among audiences in Europe, the United States and Asia. The ministry is also advertising individual cities as destinations such as Eilat, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.