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April 28, 2011April 28, 2011  0 comments  Geography

In a first known tour of its kind, 25 Ethiopian Catholics made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land designed specifically for them and their specific spiritual needs especially during the Easter holiday.

Usually Catholics from Ethiopia join Orthodox Christians, the majority religion in their nation, on tours to the Holy Land. But this time, the Catholic pilgrims celebrated Easter in Jerusalem and have been touring the entire country in a weeklong visit spiritually catered to Catholics.

Most of the people in the group were in Israel for the first time.

Meaza Yohannes, a Bible teacher, said it is amazing for her to see everything she has been teaching for 20 years  with her own eyes.
catholic, holy land tourism
“The Bible is coming alive,” she told Travelujah. “It is so awesome I cannot even explain. We know what we read in the Bible, but now it is real. This country is rich in culture and rich in history and tradition.”

Ethiopia is the second oldest Christian country in the world, after Armenia. Christians make up about 63 percent of Ethiopia’s population with about 44 percent Orthodox and 10 percent Protestant while Catholics account for less than 1 percent.

Tsehai Haile, who organized the trip in conjunction with Travelujah, explained that Catholics usually join Orthodox tours because more Orthodox come. In the future, however, more tours will be arranged for Catholics and perhaps even medical visits.

“It is better because they can pray together,” she said. “The communion service is also  different than the Orthodox one.”

Tutu Godana said that after she visited the Holy Land replica in Florida, she decided she had to make it a point to see the real Jerusalem.

“It’s more than I expected - to see the real, practical journey of Jesus,” Godana said. “It just touched my heart. I think my faith will be stronger because of this.”
catholic, holy land tourism

Michael Haile said he has traveled to many countries around the world including Europe and Australia, but nothing in all of his experience compares to the uniqueness of Israel. From the spiritual atmosphere to the vegetation to even how Israelis made use of the land when they built the nation, Haile said he was amazed with the country.

“I had to visit Israel because it is the place of the history of mankind,” he said. “The Bible says that all people will come up to Mount Zion.” 

“There are many churches in Europe, but here the design, the structure and the colors of the churches are different here,” he noted. “They are old churches, but they give you such a good feeling, they feel new and fresh.”

By Nicole Jansezian, Travelujah

Nicole Jansezian writes for www.travelujah.com, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. Travelujah is a vibrant online community offering high quality Christian content, user and expert blogs, travel tours and planning services for people interested in connecting with or traveling to the Holy Land.


January 12, 2010January 12, 2010  0 comments  Share on Travelujah

Tourism to Israel is on a strong upward increase as December recorded the highest ever number of tourists to the country. 225,000 visitors, representing an increase of 11% over the same period in 2008, arrived in Israel. Of these 194,000 spent at least one night in the country while 31,000 were day visitors.


Major policy changes are well underway that should spur more tourism growth. Over the next few months there will be a further removal of visa restrictions that have historically hindered israel's tourism potential  The elimination of visa requirements from several countries including the Ukraine can be expected to create additional deman for travel to israel.


2009 tourist arrivals to the country totaled 2.7 million tourists, a decrease of approximately 10% over the previous year.

Tags: tourism statistics 

February 22, 2010February 22, 2010  0 comments  Tourism

More tourists from Catholic countries visited Israel in January 2010 than in the last two years during the same month, according to the Tourism Ministry.



The tourists themselves were not necessarily Catholic pilgrims, however. Father Athanasius Macora said Old City churches did not report any increase in masses or visitors during January and February. He is expecting a surge during March and April and urges pilgrims to visit the Holy Land any time of the year, not just for the holidays.



"We always encourage people to come because we have the holy places and the holy places help you understand the gospels. We call it ‘the fifth gospel,'" he told Travelujah, the only Christian social network focused on travel to the Holy Land. "Contact with the holy places helps you to visualize the gospels."



Some 6,700 tourists arrived to Israel from Italy in January 2010, an 81 percent increase over January 2009 while more than 3,600 came from Brazil, a 171 percent increase over the same period last year. Another 6,000 tourists arrived from Poland and 11,500 from France.


In 2009, the Tourism Ministry invested 10-million shekels ($2.6 million) to promote Israel in Catholic countries. A website launched in advance of the Papal visit has continued to attract visitors including 232,000 browsers in January.



The increase can partly be attributed to the visit of Pope Benedict XVI who made a Holy Land pilgrimage in May 2009. After his predecessor Pope John Paul II's visit to Israel in March 2000, some 750,000 Christian pilgrims followed in his footsteps by September of that year. Many in the tourism industry expected Benedict's visit to produce similar results.


In 2008, 3 million tourists visited Israel, 35 percent of them Catholic. In 2009, the number dropped to 29 percent of the 2.7 million tourists who visited Israel. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat hopes to increase the annual number of tourists from 3 million to 10 million.


In the last few months, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov visited Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Portugal to meet with Catholic leaders.


"Catholic tourism has great potential that has yet to be realized and, over the next few years, the Tourism Ministry will continue to promote the Israeli tourism product, stressing the religious, historical and archeological elements to this community," Misezhnikov said. "The Papal visit in May 2009 and its leverage via the implementation of focused marketing activities in these countries, proves that there is great demand for Israel's tourism product by the Catholic community around the world. We will continue to work to fulfill this potential."


August 13, 2013August 13, 2013  0 comments  Tourism

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.

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