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Standing in a lovely one story Ottoman period home, overlooking the picturesque valley of the Yemenites, in one of the most enviable locations in Israel, it is hard to imagine that when the original residents of this community came to their homes nearly 70 years ago, the area was an abandoned village without electricity or water, situated in an undesirable area isolated from population centers, grocery stores and other services.
But today the area breathes tremendous life, culture and art. Twelve of the twenty four local families living here are participating in a project, Women and Tales of Jerusalem, that seeks to bring tourists to discover their village and along with it, the special foods, hospitality, culture and unique handicrafts that have brought much prominence to Ein Karem and the surrounding villages connected to it.
The Woman and Tales of Jerusalem is a special social tourism initiative spearheaded by Orly Ben Aharon, Jerusalem Mayors advisor for the advancement of women. According to Orly, the project
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
The number of tourists visiting Israel continued its record climb in May as total tourism increased 17% over the same period in 2013 in 2013. Pope Francis's recent visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories brought significant exposure to the region and is expected to prompt many more tourists, particularly Christian tourists, to visit the region.
Cultural tourism represents a growing market for Israel. With the Ministry of Tourism organizing many exciting cultural events such as the Israel Opera performing at two of Israel's UNESCO World Heritage sites including Masada and Acco, the Mozart Festival in Beersheva in May, Jerusalem Light Festival as well as world class musical and arts, the area is growing in popularity as a cultural destination. According to Tourism Minister Uzi Landa, "Those that come to Israel will discover a country not only blessed with so many holy sites, but also spectacular landscapes, rich in history, culture and night life."
In 2013, approximately 3.55 million tourists visited Israel. Based on results so far this year, 2014 could be another record year - with over 3.7 visitors - should the increase continue. However, in the aftermath of the recent kidnappings and murder of three Israeli boys as well as a non yet confirmed revenge killing of an Arab boy in Jerusalem (today) - the recent tension in the region is expe
Tourism to Israel continued to increase to record levels as the number of tourists arriving in Israel in March 2014 hit a new all time high. In March 2014, 284,000 tourists arrived in Israel representing a 13% increase over the previous year. Since the beginning of January 2014, tourism to Israel has continued to climb. In January-March 2014, 776,000 visitors arrived in Israel, 3% more than the same period in 2013. Of these apprxoimately 700,000 were tourist arrivals.
The high growth rate further highlights the shortage of hotel rooms in Israel, and particularly in high demand areas such as the Galilee and Jerusalem. There is concern that prices, which are already high, will continue to rise even more, and could impede or at least slow further growth.
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "The year 2014 began with the momentum of a record-breaking year for incoming tourism in 2013. The Tourism Ministry is working intensively to constantly improve the quality of service, to promote tourism projects, to improve the tourism product and to market Israel widely and effectively throughout the world. I wish all our visitors, from Israel and overseas, a happy Passover and invite them to take advantage of the holiday and tour our beautiful country."
March 2014 Statistics
245,000 entries were by air, 12% more than March 2013, of which 10,200 arrived on direct flights to Eilat (1% m
Despite a two year old civil war raging in Syria and ongoing conflict in Egypt, tourists are flocking to a very peaceful Israel. The Israel Ministry of Tourism announced today that a record number of tourists, 3.56 million, visited the country in 2013, up slightly over 2012 levels. The number of tourist entries increased 3 % over 2012, pointing to a growing interest in longer term visitors rather than day visitors.
2013 was a banner year for Israel tourism, marked by several significant events including President Obama's first presidential visit to the country in March 2013 followed by the renewal of peace talks, which have fueled an atmosphere of cautious optimism.Moreover the security situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories continues to be quiet with little, if any, distruptions occcuring within the tourism sector as a result of political situation.
The United States continued to be the most significant market for for incoming tourists with 623,000 tourists, however, tourism from Russia, which has been increasing signficantly over the last few years due to the elimination of visa requirements, registered 603,000 tourists. Given its proximity to Israel and increasing economic strength, it is quite likely that in future years Russia will overtake the US as the most significant market of tourism to Israel. Other important markets continue to be France, Germany, and the UK.
Tourism 2014 is anticipated to continue its
Touring to both Israel and the Palestinian Territories is getting even easier. A new Palestinian and Israeli experiential tourism project, Breaking Bread Journeys, aims to reach tourists seeking to engage with locals and visit important biblical and other sites. The new program was created by two tour operators, Christina Samara, a Palestinian and owner of Samara Tourist and Travel Agency, and Elisa Moed, founder of Israel-based Travelujah. Both women were introduced by Tony Blair's Quartet Initiative and are launching this new tourism concept with the support of the United States Agency for International Development under the Compete Project in the West Bank, which emphasizes economic development, including tourism, as a path to peace and stability.
"We realized that travel brings people together in many positive ways and helps in the pursuit of stability, prosperity and peace in the entire Holy Land," said Christina Samara. "So we designed a set of very special Palestinian and Israeli cultural and historic tours that include many of the classical sites that both of our companies have long been offering."
Israel has never been a more popular tourist destination. According to the latest data released by country's central bureau of statistics, Israel reached an all-time record for tourist entries in July 2013: 246,000 tourists stayed overnight in the country, approximately 2% more than last year, and 4% more than in 2011.Interest in cruise ship visitors increased as well fueled by the additional cruise ships visiting the region.
Since the start of the year ver 2 million visitors arrived in Israel - signalling another record year for tourism to Israel. The improving economic condition in the US, open skies agreement, and the elimination of visa requirements from India, Russia, China and the Ukraine are expected to continue to positively impact Israel's tourism industry, 1% more than the same period in 2012, 8% more than 2011 and 6% more than 2010. Should the current trend continue, Travelujah estimates that 3.6 million tourists will visit Israel in 2013.
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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.
For visitors to Israel, Saturdays can seem like a visit to another world. Jerusalem in particular seems to shut down on Saturdays with only a handful of restaurants and other attractions staying open. However, even though things slow down significantly on Saturdays, there is no reason to escape to Tel Aviv. The city still has plenty to do and see even on the Sabbath.
Start with the Haas Promenade in the Talpiyot neighborhood. This viewing point and walking path provides breathtaking vistas of the city, including the Old City of Jerusalem. There is even a plaque indicating that it is the spot where Abraham left his servants as he and Issac descended into the valley before ascending to Mt. Moriah. You can see the roads leading to the city that people would have walked on in the times of Jesus. It is a bit of a walk from the City but well woth the views. Located at Armon Hanatziv in Talpiyot.
The unexpected beauty of the Negev offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a 2-day getaway. Promising a myriad of biblical archaeological sites, hiking trails, Bedouin hospitality and even some delightful boutique wineries, the Negev desert is the perfect place to get away from it all and enjoy it all!
And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of the well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. (Genesis 21:25) …Wherefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there they swore both of them (Genesis 21:31)
How did Abraham achieve greatness? As the Bible tells us, he knew where to dig wells. He could access water, even i
Traveling to Israel has never been more popular than in 2012. By the end of this week 3.5 million visitors will have traveled to Israel this year, 4% more than in 2011. It should be noted, however, that the impact from the downturn that occurred last month due to cancellations during and following short-lived conflict in Gaza, Operation Pillar of Defense, are not completely represented in these statistics.
Ethiopian Catholics visiting Israel during Holy Week. Photo: courtesy Travelujah
The United states continues to be largest source for incoming tourism, with 610,000 tourists and representing 18% of all tourists to Israel. Russia, however, is quickly becoming a very significant source market for Israel and is expected to exceed the US as the number one market for incoming tourists in the next year. In 2005, approxiately 45,000 Russians visited Israel while 590,000 Russian tourists visited in 2012, representing a compound annual growth of over 44%. In the last year alone Russian tourism to Israel grew 18%. The cancellation of the visa requirement for all Russians traveling to Israel in 2010, is one of the major factors that has positively impacted touri