“For He will give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Psalms 91:11 (The Israel Bible™)
A record number of tourists entered Israel during January and February, according to statistics released Wednesday by the Ministry of Tourism. According to the Ministry, there was a 25 percent increase over the first two months of 2017 compared to January-February 2016. This included a 22 percent increase in tourist entries in February 2017 as compared to February 2016, and a 25 percent increase over February 2015.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the numbers illustrated the strength of Israel’s tourism industry. “The statistics show that the ground-breaking marketing campaigns we have created in the last few months at the Tourism Ministry have generated a significant increase in tourist traffic,” he said.
Notably, 209,000 tourist entries were by air, an increase of 19 percent over February 2016 and 24 over February 2015.
The numbers followed on a flurry of interest in Israel by foreign airlines. Last month, Ireland-based low-cost airline Ryanair announced that the airline will begin service to Tel Aviv from seven European cities, and eight more from Bratislava, Budapest, Krakow and Kaunas to the new Eilat Ovda airport, scheduled to open later this year.
In addition, earlier this week Air India announced it would begin service between New Delhi and Tel Aviv. The service will begin with three weekly flights, but airline officials said they plan to expand to daily flights if and when the demand warrants it. Ministry officials said Sunday that the Indian carrier was attracted by policies to open new markets in the Far East.
Lastly, Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Australia also resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding between El Al and Australia’s Qantas Airlines for a codesharing agreement to provide smoother connections and streamlined check-in procedures for passengers of both airlines. These are expected to go into effect in the last six months of 2017. Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester also said he expected the tourism exchange to grow rapidly in response to the new arrangements.
“We will continue to consolidate Israel’s position and promote the country around the world as an attractive tourism destination to ensure the continued prosperity and strengthening of the tourism market in Israel,” concluded Tourism Minister Levin.