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Israeli tourism remains in state of collapse amid war

Tourism to Israel dropped precipitously as a result of the Oct. 7 massacre and the ensuing war in Gaza. Most international airlines have yet to restore service.

Tourists take in the view of the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives platform overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, on Oct. 11, 2018. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.
Tourists take in the view of the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount from the Mount of Olives platform overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, on Oct. 11, 2018. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90.

The Gaza war continues to take its toll on Israel’s tourism industry, with the country seeing only 58,600 tourist visits in January, compared to the 257,400 tourists who visited during the same month last year, marking a 77% decrease.

According to monthly figures released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), only 500 single-day visits were registered, compared to 14,000 in January 2023, a 96% decrease.

Also, far fewer Israelis are traveling abroad. In January 2024, 281,400 Israelis traveled to other countries, down from 611,100 in January 2023, a decrease of more than 50%.

Last month, CBS released annual tourism numbers for 2023, which dropped off sharply toward the end of the year; the war broke out during the busiest tourism quarter of the year, which includes the Christmas holidays.

Only 3 million tourists came in 2023, compared to the 4 million that had been predicted. In 2019, Israel enjoyed a record-breaking year with 4.5 million tourists.

Following the outbreak of the war, most international airlines suspended flights to Israel, and the majority have yet to restore service.

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

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.

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