Record 2.1 million tourists visit Israel in first half of 2018

Ministry data shows country earned more than NIS 12 billion from tourism between January and June

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

El Al flight seen at the airstrip at the Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
El Al flight seen at the airstrip at the Ben Gurion International Airport. February 26, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

A record number of tourists visited Israel in the first half of 2018, according to statistics published Monday by the Tourism Ministry.

Some 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded between January and June, the most for any half-year period and the first time the 2 million threshold was passed, the ministry said in a statement.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin hailed the achievement, saying in a statement that “the marketing efforts and activities that we are spearheading in the ministry are leading us to new records.”

The figure represents an increase of 19 percent over the same period last year, when 1.74 million tourists came to Israel, and a 26% increase over the first half of 2016.

The promenade in the southern Israeli city of Eilat, December 20, 2012 (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

The ministry said tourism has injected NIS 12 billion ($3.3 billion) into the Israeli economy in the first half of 2018.

According to the findings, compiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics, some 1.8 million tourists entered Israel by air — including 63,000 via Ovda Airport near Eilat — 73% more than last year. About 243,000 arrived through land crossings.

In the month of June alone, 310,200 tourists entered the country, representing a 2% increase over June 2017 and a 31% increase over June 2016. Tourism last month earned Israel NIS 1.66 billion.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin speaks at the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference of the ‘Besheva’ group, on February 12, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“I am pleased to see that the first half of the year has borne the fruit of our intensive marketing efforts and activities around the world,” Levin said. “Ahead of the winter season, we are already seeing an increase in the number of flights from Europe to Eilat, with new airlines joining this momentum.

“I am sure that all tourism-related enterprises will feel these results in the tourism industry, which contributes tens of billions of dollars every year to the Israeli economy.”

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