JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 3.6 million tourists visited Israel in 2017.
The figure, an all-time record, represents a 25 percent increase over the previous year, the Israelis business daily Globes reported, citing Ministry of Tourism statistics.
The largest number of tourists, close to 700,000, came from the United States. Tourists from Russia represented the second largest group, with some 307,000 tourists. They were followed by France, with 284,000, Germany with 202,000 and the United Kingdom with 185,000.
Some 59 percent of the tourists were visiting Israel for the first time, according to Globes. Twenty-five percent said the purpose of their visit was religious or a pilgrimage. Some 24 percent said they were visiting relatives and friends, and 23 percent said they were planning on touring and hiking. Six percent came with an organized tour package.
Jerusalem was a destination for 78 percent of tourists in 2017, followed by Tel Aviv-Jaffa at 67 percent, the Dead Sea at 49 percent and Tiberias and the Galilee region at 35 percent.
The tourism ministry reported that the 2017 tourism contributed some $5.8 billion to Israel’s economy.