Israel on Sunday welcomed its millionth tourist of 2022, just over four months since pandemic-related travel restrictions were lifted on March 1, according to a statement released by the Israeli Tourism Ministry.

The tourist, Belinda Desoyo Lee Marcelo, 53, a resident of the United Arab Emirates, was greeted by Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov and ministry representatives, according to the statement.

“At first, we thought and hoped that the president of the United States, Joe Biden, would be the millionth tourist to arrive in Israel in 2022, but once again, we have beaten the forecast. Here we are, welcoming the millionth tourist to enter Israel this year,” said Razvozov.

Biden is slated to visit Israel on July 13 as part of a regional trip.

While severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s incoming tourism figures are now exceeding forecasts, the ministry said. Incoming tourism reached 244,500 entries in June 2022, only 33% less than the record set in June 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic, the statement continued.

“Last year, our skies were closed, there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism,” said Razvozov. “Despite the situation, we did not give up, at any stage. We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges,” he added.

“To my joy, in contrast to all the pessimistic forecasts, we can see today that tourism has returned to Israel. A million tourists inject money into the Israeli economy, create job opportunities throughout the country and provide a livelihood for whole families. Now we look forward to the objective I have set for the industry: 10 million tourists in 2030.”

Based on the figures, the ministry expects as many as 2 million tourists to visit Israel by the end of 2022.

JNS

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