The excitement generated within the Tourism Ministry by a record-breaking first half of 2012 for tourists arriving in Israel has extended into the second half of the year. The ministry released a report on Wednesday saying that 296,000 visitors arrived in July, an increase of 8% over July 2011, and the highest number ever recorded for the month.

So far in 2012, more than two million visitors have come to Israel, representing a 7% increase over 2011, and 5% more than in 2010, which was also a record year. Of the two million visitors arriving in 2012, approximately 1.7 million were tourists (many of the rest were business travelers), 3% more than the same period in 2011 and 7% more than the previous year.

The reported stated that nearly 70,000 tourists came to Israel from the United States in July 2012, making it the country sending the highest number of visitors. Second was Russia with nearly 30,000 visitors, followed by the UK with 14,000.

In a statement, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said that he foresees a decrease in the cost of vacationing in Israel in the near future. “Given the constant increase in demand, there is an urgent need for more hotel rooms that will increase competition in the industry and lead to a decrease in the cost of accommodation for both tourists and Israelis.”

Misezhnikov added that at end of August, the Committee to Reduce the Cost of Vacations will publish its conclusions and will also support the need to increase the number of hotel rooms.