Record 4.9 million people visited Israel in 2019, 12% more than 2018
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Record 4.9 million people visited Israel in 2019, 12% more than 2018

Of those who came, 4.6 million stayed at least one night; figures show there were also 9.2 million exit trips last year, a rise of 8% over the previous year

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Passengers wait at the departure terminal at Ben Gurion International airport on December 17, 2017. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Passengers wait at the departure terminal at Ben Gurion International airport on December 17, 2017. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

Israel saw a record number of 4.9 million entries into the country last year, of which 4.6 million were tourists who stayed at least one night, according to figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The tourism figures for 2019, published Monday, showed an increase of 12 percent in the number of entries compared to 2018.

Most visitors, over a million, came from the United States, some 21% of the total. Russia provided the next-largest influx (555,000), then France (400,000), Germany (300,000), and Britain and France with around 200,000 visitors each.

Overall, tourist visits rose by 10.5% above numbers for 2018 and were 41% higher than the annual average for the past decade.

There was also a new high for Israelis taking trips abroad with some 9.2 million exits from the country, an increase of 8% over the previous year.

Of the 4.3 million who traveled, 2.2 million made just one trip, and 2.1 million went abroad more than once. The numbers also included expat Israelis who visited their homeland.

Some 2.4 million exits happened in the months of July and August. The highest number of exits on a single day was on September 26 with 50,000.

Of Israelis who went abroad, 8.3 million left by air (an increase of 7%) and 777,000 left by land, of whom 499,000 went to the neighboring Sinai Peninsula, an increase of 31% in trips to the Egyptian territory.

Global tourism has been on the rise over the past decade, the CBS said, and the trend has also been felt in Israel, which has seen a steady increase in visitors over the past ten years, aside from the years 2014-2016.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin attends a conference on September 5, 2019. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)

The CBS suggested the temporary dip may have been caused by the security situation and in particular the war in Gaza in the summer of 2014.

On average there have been 3.6 million entries into the country every year for the past ten years.

Over the past three years the entry record bar has been consistently pushed up. There were 3.6 million entries in 2017, a climb of 25%; 4.1 million in 2018, a 14% increase; and now 4.6 million in 2019.

On Sunday Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told the weekly cabinet meeting that tourism in 2019 brought NIS 22.5 billion ($6.49 billion) to the economy, the Ynet news site reported Monday. The tourism industry employed 153,000 people last year, of whom 13,600 were new employees, Levin said.

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