2012 is a record-breaking year for tourism to Israel: 3.5 million visitors to Israel will have arrived by the end of 2012, 4% more than in 2011. Tourists (not including day visitors) account for 2.9 million entries, 2% more than in 2011. Despite the downturn that occurred in the last month and a half as a result of Operation Pillar of Defense, this year sets a new record for incoming tourism to Israel.
As in previous years, the US remains the largest single source country for incoming tourism with about 610,000 visitors, representing 18% of all tourism to the country and a drop of 4% on last year. In second place and with a very small margin is tourism from Russia with 590,000 visitors, 20% more than 2011.
Out of 3.5 million visitors, 2.5 million arrived by air (70%), an increase of 1% compared to 2011. About 406,000 came through the land borders (12%), an increase of 6% compared to 2011. 625,000 entries (18%) were one-day visitors, an increase of 15%: of these 235,000 came on cruise ships, a similar number to 2011.
About 16.5 million domestic overnight stays were registered in 2012 in all the various types of accommodation, 3% more than last year. There was an increase of 4% in hotel stays, 2% in youth hostels and ½% in rural tourism.
Revenue from incoming tourism in 2012 (including the income of the Israeli aviation companies from inbound tourism) totals about $4.6 billion or 17.8 billion NIS (an increase of 8% - largely due to the increase in the dollar rate). Revenue from domestic tourism in 2012 totals about 10.3 billion NIS (3% more than in 2011), and another 8 billion NIS in revenue from outbound tourism – similar to 2011. Total revenue from tourism in 2012 is estimated at about 36 billion NIS, 4% more than in 2011.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: “These achievements are a reflection of the intensive and professional work of the past three years, when tourism has become a main engine for growth in the economy with a rise in revenues and the creation of new jobs. Making tourism a preferred national industry will strengthen Israel in economic, image and advocacy terms.”