Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said: “The year 2018 was a record year for incoming tourism to Israel, with more than 4 million tourists.”
The Tourism Ministry released the results of its annual Inbound Tourism Survey on Sunday, which stated that in 2018, 93% of tourists ranked their visit in the “good to excellent” category, with tourism bringing almost 21 billion shekels into the country, excluding flights.
The survey further mentioned that 53.2% of tourists said that their views on Israel changed for the better upon their visit to the country, while 41% said that their views did not change and 1.5% said their view changed for the worst.
“The year 2018 was a record year for incoming tourism to Israel, with more than 4 million tourists,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. “The constant increase in incoming tourism is a result of the ministry’s new marketing strategy, and we are seeing a continuation of this upward momentum in 2019.”
Tel Aviv Port was ranked the best maintained site in the country by 31.3% of the tourists, while Masada was second with 26.2% and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art came in third with 21.1%.
Jerusalem is the most visited city, with 77.5% of the tourists in the country visiting the capital. Tel Aviv is in second place with 67.4%, followed by the Dead Sea area (48%) and Tiberias (36.2%).
The Western Wall is the most visited site, with 71.6% of tourists visiting there. Next in line was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre visited by 52.2% of tourists, 50.1% visiting Old Jaffa, and Via Dolorosa in fourth place with 47.4%.
The age group of 25-44 was the largest among tourists, making up 35.8% of the bunch, while 24.1% were aged 55 and over and 20.7% were 24 and under. Some 19.4% of tourists were aged 45-54.
The average expenditure per tourist throughout 2018 was $1,402 per stay, again excluding flight costs, dropping slightly from the previous year’s $1,421. The costs include $657 on accommodations, which rose slightly from the 2017 average of $630. But the other costs, including transportation and tours, shopping, entertainment, medical and miscellaneous all dropped from the previous year.
Jews made up 27.5% of the tourists, but twice as many Christians visited – a staggering 54.9% – 42.8% of whom were Catholic and 30.6% Protestant. Only 2.4% were Muslims.
About 64.8% of the visitors said that they arrived in Israel independently rather than with a travel group.
The survey is based on the responses of 15,000 tourists.