Papal visit expected to boost Christian tourism by 10%
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Papal visit expected to boost Christian tourism by 10%

Tourism ministry says tens of thousands to flock to Holy Land; Christians already account for 60% of market

Pope Francis greets the crowd after the Easter mass on April 20, 2014 at St Peter's square in Vatican. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)
Pope Francis greets the crowd after the Easter mass on April 20, 2014 at St Peter's square in Vatican. (photo credit: AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE)

Israel’s tourism ministry said Sunday it expects the papal visit later this month to give a sharp boost to tourism by Christians, who already account for a majority of tourism to the Holy Land.

“As a result of the visit to the Holy Land by Pope Francis, who is such a popular figure and significant leader for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the ministry estimates an increase of tens of thousands in the numbers of Christians visiting Israel,” the ministry said.

“Christian tourism, which accounts for about 60 percent of all incoming tourism, is expected to increase by about 10 percent in 2014,” it said.

It added that 2013 was a record year for tourism to Israel, with 3.54 million entries logged.

It said Jews made up 22 percent of the visitors, with Roman Catholics, at 26 percent, the largest of the Christian denominations.

The ministry said the May 25-26 visit of Pope Francis would be streamed live on a dedicated website, www.holyland-pilgrimage.org, to enable Christians worldwide to follow the visit.

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