JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 3.5 million people will have visited Israel during 2012 by year’s end.
The number represents a 4 percent increase over last year, according to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism.
As in previous years, the United States is the largest single source country for incoming tourism with about 610,000 visitors, representing 18 percent of all tourism to the country and a drop of 4 percent from 2011. Tourism from Russia was second with 590,000 visitors, 20 percent more than 2011, the ministry said.
Tourism decreased during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense last month.
Of the 3.5 million visitors for 2012, 2.5 million arrived by air, or 70 percent, an increase of 1 percent compared to 2011. About 406,000 came through the land borders, or 12 percent, an increase of 6 percent compared to 2011. Another 625,000 entries, or 18 percent, were one-day visitors, an increase of 15 percent. Of those, 235,000 came on cruise ships, a similar number to 2011.
Revenue from incoming tourism in 2012, including the income of the Israeli aviation companies from inbound tourism, is about $4.6 billion, an increase of 8 percent. Revenue from domestic tourism in 2012 totals about $2.748 billion, or 3 percent more than in 2011, and another $2.2 billion in revenue from outbound tourism — similar to 2011. Total revenue from tourism in 2012 is estimated at about $ 9.6 billion, 4 percent more than in 2011.
Some 58 percent of incoming tourism was Christian tourism and 23 percent Jewish tourism. In addition, 62 percent of tourists were first-time visitors. Some 20 percent said they were visiting friends or relatives, and 12 percent came for businesses or to attend conventions.