Tourism is a major economic activity in Israel. It is one of the major sources of income for the country with a record of 3.5 million tourists arriving in the country in 2013. The sector employs 6% of the workforce, or over 200,000 people. Israel is home to diverse historical and religious sites, beaches, archaeological sites, and heritage tourism. The country ranks first by the number of museums per capita and is popular for history and religious importance for several people. The major tourist attractions in Israel include The Western Wall, The Old City, the Temple Mount, the towns of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Masada.
Recent Development In Israel’s Tourism Sector
The tourism sector in Israel experienced a slight downturn in 2014 due to the Summer Gaza War operation protective edge. However, the year recorded just a 1% drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting the country. Operation Protective Edge negatively affected the tourism sector in Israel in 2015. Tourism numbers in 2015 were comparable with the previous year, falling below the expected numbers. However, the numbers increased significantly in 2016. Tourism to Israel in 2016 rose by 3.6% compared to the previous years with the country welcoming about 2.9 million tourists. The increased number of tourists was as a result of strategic marketing efforts. Of the 2.9 million tourists, 60% visited the country independently instead of a group trip which has been the norm. Israel continued to receive increased number of tourists from China with the number increasing by 69% from 2016. The United States sent the highest number of tourists (672,100) to Israel in 2016, about 6% more than 2015. France and Russia were also top sources for tourists, sending 293,000 and 284,000 tourists respectively. Other top sources for tourists in Israel include the UK, Germany, and Ukraine.
Most Visited Cities In Israel
Jerusalem is one of the most visited cities in Israel with the city receiving more than 3.5 million tourists annually. Jerusalem is also one of the world’s oldest cities. It is considered a holy city by three religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The city hosts several historical, archaeological, and religious sites. The major attractions in Jerusalem include the Germany Colony, Mea Shearim, Mt. Zion, and Mt. Scopus in West Jerusalem, the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem. Tel Aviv, the second largest city, receives over 2.5 million tourists every year. The city exhibits a world heritage area of Bauhaus architecture. Tel Aviv is also branded ‘a city that never sleeps’ because of its vibrant nightlife. Other popular cities in Israel include Safed, Akko, Haifa, Tiberias, Nazareth, Beersheba, and Ashkelon.
Popular Landmarks Outside Cities
While the cities of Israel boast of some of the famous sites in the country, some popular landmarks are found outside the major cities of Israel. Masada, an ancient town, is found at the top of the isolated rock plateau on the edge of Judean Desert. The ancient city of Caesarea is one of the country’s archaeological sites. The Roman Decapolis city of Beit She’arim National Park has several Jewish tombs with significant signs. The over 200 Biblical Tells in Israel are considered UNESCO World Heritage Sites.