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Israel tourism record broken in February

Despite blustery and wet weather, visitors came to Israel in unprecedented numbers last month

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Tourists walk down Mount of Olives towards the Old City of Jerusalem in February 2012. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Tourists walk down Mount of Olives towards the Old City of Jerusalem in February 2012. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

A record number of tourists — 232,000 — visited Israel in February 2012, the Tourism Ministry reported on Monday.

Despite an especially wet month, February’s tourism figures outstripped the previous record set in February 2010 by 4 percent, and were 6% higher than last February. An estimated 388,900 tourists have come to Israel since the beginning of 2012.

“The increased momentum of tourism to Israel is the result of focused and intensive international marketing activity, in spite of regional turmoil and the ongoing economic crisis in Europe,” Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beitainu) said. “The Ministry of Tourism will continue its marketing operations worldwide, with emphasis on the markets of China, India, South Korea, Russia, and South America”.

The Tourism Ministry’s announcement came the same day that the US State Department issued a security warning to American travelers to Israel.

Because of the exchange of fire on the Gaza border, the State Department advised that Americans “exercise caution and take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security while traveling in this region.”

It remains to be seen whether the security deterioration on the Gaza border — and travel advisories like this — will affect tourist numbers in the coming months.

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