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Record 1.5 million Israelis visit national parks during Sukkot break

Nature and Parks Authority reports a 22% rise in visitors compared to last year’s holiday; Caesarea, Ein Gedi and Masada are the most popular sites

Hundreds of families take part in the annual Katzrin and Golan nature walk in different trails of the Katzrin forest, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, on October 13, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Hundreds of families take part in the annual Katzrin and Golan nature walk in different trails of the Katzrin forest, during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, on October 13, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A record-breaking number of Israelis flocked to the country’s national parks over the weeklong Sukkot holiday, according to official data.

The Nature and Parks Authority reported Monday that approximately 1.5 million Israelis visited national parks and nature reserves over the past week, a 22 percent rise compared to Sukkot last year.

The most popular sites were Caesarea National Park, which saw 44,000 visitors, followed by the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, which attracted 35,000 people, and Masada National Park, which drew 32,000 visitors.

Heritage sites like Masada and other ancient forts, including Yehiam and Apollonia, saw a particular increase in visitor interest.

The head of the Nature and Parks Authority, Raya Shourky, said it partnered with the Tourism Ministry and Mifal HaPayis, Israel’s national lottery, to provide extra activities for visitors at the sites during the Sukkot break.

The most visible initiative provided was “Breathing Culture,” which included organized jugglers, singers, musicians and actors to entertain tourists at the parks.

Professional tours were provided at several parks and nature reserves.

“The challenge for the Nature and Parks Authority leading up to the High Holidays is to recognize the mood of the public which is affected mainly by security events, the weather forecast, and the division of weekdays in relation to holidays and the Sabbath, and accordingly to manage and influence the movement of travelers and their experience before the holiday and on the holiday itself,” Shoukry said.

Ibex in the Ein Gedi nature reserve along the Dead sea in the Judean Desert on March 24, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

To keep sites clean, the parks authority, in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Ministry, launched an initiative to explain to visitors the importance of respecting the parks and reserves.

The authority said the push reached 50,000 visitors and claimed that it “contributed greatly to the preservation of nature” and that sites “remained relatively clean.”

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