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Israel: Tourism in Israel

The tourism industry in Israel is quite large, employing over 200,000 people (about 6% of Israel's work force).  A fascinating tourist destination for many reasons,

The tourism industry in Israel is quite large, employing over 200,000 people (about 6% of Israel’s work force). A fascinating tourist destination for many reasons, Israel is brimming with history and religious significance for many people.

In 2018, tourism shattered previous records with more than four million visitors entering Israel, an increase of approximately 13% more than the previous year and 38% higher than 2016.

The increase was partly due to the opening of new flight routes from Europe, Iceland, Miami, Shanghai, South America, and New Delhi. The largest number of tourists came from the United States (813,500), France (320,000), Russia (303,200), Germany (259,500), Britain (200,000) and China (100,000). The fastest growing group is from China due to the launch of direct flights from Shanghai.

Of the total, 40% of the tourists had already visited Israel. In 2018, 61% of all tourists were Christian, 22% were Jews, 12.1% were not affiliated, 1.8% were Muslim, 0.6% were Buddhists, 0.5% were Hindus, and 0.1% were Bahais .

The most visited city in Israel is Jerusalem. In 2018, the UK-based Euromonitor International research firm identified Jerusalem as the fastest-growing tourist destination in the world. Holding profound significance in all three of the world’s major religions, Jerusalem contains many historical, archaeological, and religiously significant attractions that all individuals can enjoy. Tel Aviv is Israel’s second most visited city, and in 2010 was ranked as one of National Geographic’s top 10 best beach cities. Known for its intense party atmosphere and reputation as the Middle East’s “city that never sleeps,” Tel Aviv is a popular destination for young people looking for a night out.

Jerusalem was ranked the 7th best cities in the world in 2018 by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Citing high price competition and security concerns, the World Economic Forum ranked Israel #61 out of 141 countries in their 2017 tourism competitiveness index.


Year Total Tourists (Stayed more than 1 day)
2005 1,902,700
2006 1,825,200
2007 2,063,100
2008 2,568,600
2009 2,321,400
2010 2,803,200
2011 2,820,200
2012 2,885,900
2013 2,961,700
2014 2,926,000
2015 2,799,000
2016 2,900,000
2017 3,600,000

Sources: Central Bureau of Statistics;
“Israel drops in tourism rankings due to high prices and security concerns,” Haaretz, (May 10, 2015);
Central Bureau of Statistics;

Sara Stub, “Tourism to Israel fell slightly in 2014,” The Wall Street Journal, (January 11, 2015);
Michal Raz-Chaimovich, “Tourism to Israel up 3.6% in 2016,” Globes, (January 9, 2017);
Michal Raz-Chaimovich,  Tourist entries to Israel up 20% in August, Globes, (September 12, 2017);
Michal Raz-Chaimovich,  Record 3.6m tourists visit Israel in 2017, Globes, (December 27, 2017);
Israel sees record number of tourists for first half of 2018, JNS, (July 9, 2018);
“Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017,” World Economic Forum;
CNT Editors, Caitlin Morton And Katherine Lagrave, “The Best Cities in the World: 2018 Readers' Choice Awards,” Conde Nast Traveler, (October 9, 2018);
“4 Million Visitors: Israel Breaks Tourism Records in 2018!” United with Israel, (December 28, 2018).