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3 million tourists visited Israel in 2023 before Hamas war

Annual tourism figures for 2023 fell precipitously short of the 2019 peak due to the sudden collapse of tourism due to the Israel-Hamas war.

Fijian pilgrims arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Sept. 29, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of ICEJ.
Fijian pilgrims arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport. Sept. 29, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of ICEJ.

Three million tourists visited Israel last year, with the first nine months before the outbreak of the war with Hamas setting a record for tourism from the United States, the Israeli Tourism Ministry announced on Monday.

Annual tourism for 2023 fell precipitously short of the 4.5 million who visited during the record tourism year in 2019 due to the sudden collapse of tourism in the last quarter of the year, when most international airlines suspended flights to Israel, but was still higher than the 2.67 million figure for 2022.

The top 10 countries for incoming tourism last year were the United States, France, England, Russia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Poland, Canada and Spain.

The average tourist stayed in Israel for eight days, with 70% coming independently and 30% as part of organized groups, according to a tourism survey carried out during the first nine months of 2023.

Half the tourists were Christian and nearly a quarter were Jewish.

Fifty-seven percent of incoming tourists were first-time visitors, while 43% had visited Israel more than once.

Sixty percent stayed in hotels or holiday villages, while 19% stayed with relatives and friends and 13% stayed in short-term rentals.

In all, Israel’s tourism revenue last year reached $4.85 billion.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa along with its subsidiaries Swiss and Austrian Airlines resumed flights to Israel this week, becoming one of the first major foreign airlines to renew service to Tel Aviv since the outbreak of the war.

“We are preparing the necessary infrastructure that will enable us to operate swiftly and efficiently on the day after, in order to help jumpstart the economy and to offer the country additional resources for rehabilitation and growth,” said Tourism Minister Haim Katz.

“While some tourists postponed their vacations because of the war, many did not cancel their reservations and are waiting for the right time to travel. Israel has much to offer as a tourism destination and we are looking forward to once again welcoming tourists to our country,” he added.

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