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Israel Tourism Declines as Tourists Continue to Stay Away

6 January, 20156 January, 2015 0 comments Tourism Tourism

What only a few months ago looked like a banner year in Israel tourism, has taken a sharp downward turn as the country continues to experience significant declines in international tourism arrivals. The first six months of 2014 were exceptionally strong for tourism, as the numbers of tourists visiting Israel increased over 18% from the peak levels achieved in 2013. However, the start of the war with Gaza, which lasted almost two months, and the subsequent disturbances in Jerusalem as well as the region, have continued to have a very negative impact on tourism to Israel.  The 18% gains in tourism were wiped out by the significant decrease of tourist arrivals during the second half of the year and as a result, 2014 is expected to end with a 3.3% decrease in tourists or around 3.3 million people.


Historically wars in Israel have always promped tourists to cancel or postpone their visits, but  usually once a war is over, tourism almost immediately begins to bounce back. However, since this last war was over in late August, this has not been the case. In fact three months after the cessation of hostilities with Gaza, in November, always a peak month for pilgrimage, only 243,000 tourists arrived, representing a decline of   21% over November 2013 figures.  In fact, the entire post war fall/winter period from September to November, tourism has fallen approximately 20%.


Christian tourism continues to be the strongest market for tourism to Israel, representing over 50% of all travelers to Israel.  Approximately half of Christian tourists are Catholics, while 20%  are Protestant. Russian Orthodox, which has grown significantly in the last few years visa restrictions to/from Russia and the Ukraine were  eliminated, is estimated at around 30%.


The United States remains the largest source market for Israel, followed by Russia, Italy, Germany and the UK. The open skies agreement has enabled many more airlines to fly to Israel and as a number of low cost airlines are now serving Israel.


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Elisa L. Moed is the Founder and CEO of Travelujah-Holy Land tours, the leading Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.



TagsTags: israel tourism 


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