Israel Sees Record Tourists Drawn by New Hotels, Special Events

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    Israel saw a record number of tourists in the first half of 2018, injecting more than $3.3 billion into the Israeli economy. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, from January to June 2018 roughly 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded, an increase of 19 percent over the same period in 2017 and 26 percent more than in 2016.

    The United States remains the largest source country for incoming tourists, with 470,200 tourist entries in 2018, 17 percent more than 2017. More Canadians than ever also are traveling to Israel with a 14 percent visitor increase in 2018 compared to 2017. The significant increase in tourism is due, according to the Israel Ministry of Tourism, to intensive marketing efforts and activities around the world, as well as new hotel openings, festivals and museum exhibits.

    New hotels opening in Tel Aviv (pictured above) and other locations in recent months, as well as upcoming properties include:

    The Drisco: After a $35 million investment and more than a decade of intensive work led by architect and interior designer Ari Shaltiel, The Drisco hotel officially opened for reservations in June. The 42-room property offers a mixture of old world elegance and new world comforts in a prime Tel Aviv location. The luxury boutique hotel is steps away from the beaches, Rothschild Boulevard, the charming neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, Jaffa’s flea market and Old Jaffa. The property aims to capture the essence of the hip, urban Israeli city and offers travelers an upscale hospitality experience enhanced by a historic building.

    The Dave South: Brown Hotels is opening The Dave South in September 2018 in the Nahalat Binyamin area in the heart of Tel Aviv. The property joins The Dave West, the inaugural property, which opened earlier this year in Brown Hotels’ new brand of low-cost, youthful boutique hotels in Tel Aviv designed for urbanites eager to explore Tel Aviv life. This summer at The Dave West, guests can arrange for various experiences at the hotel’s limited-time pop up, including haircuts and tattoos. Haircuts are offered by Barbaria, a well-known Tel Aviv male grooming shop and the extra-adventurous can get a unique tattoo created by Sara Kori, a rising star in the local tattoo scene. Both services are available for hotel guests. Travelers should plan a visit over a Tuesday or Friday to visit the Nahalat Binyamin Market, which features a variety of arts and crafts presented by more than 200 local artists.

    Lighthouse Hotel: Another new property by Brown Hotels is opening this month just a block away from the Tel Aviv beaches. The new Lighthouse Hotel will feature 103 rooms with sea and city views, a wellness center, a private and corporate event complex, rooftop garden and Rooftop Bar with 360 degree views of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. Two outdoor swimming pools will be added by the summer 2020.

    The Link Hotel & Hub: Dan Hotels has opened a new business-focused property in the center of Tel Aviv called the Link Hotel & Hub. At an investment of more than $11 million, this new hotel targets the new generation of business travelers and tourists, offering a concept of “connecting” guests to contemporary design, Tel Aviv’s vibrant social scene, street art and advanced technology. To help arriving guests get quickly to their rooms with a minimum of fuss, The Link has eliminated many procedures typical of traditional hotels. For example, there are no cash transactions, no reception desk, no bellboys and no concierge. The multi-tasking 24/7 service crew operates on an “everyone does everything” basis. Located on Shaul Ha’melech Boulevard, the hotel is  close to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Opera House, Cameri Theatre, Rabin Square and Sarona Market.

    The Setai-Sea of Galilee: One of two properties within The Setai Hotels brand portfolio in Israel, this hotel will add 47 new standalone Kinneret Villas, each featuring a private garden and an infinity pool, in August 2018. Having officially opened in June 2017 with 110 villas and suites, The Setai Sea of Galilee is a pastoral spa resort located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (or Kinneret) overlooking Northern Israel.

    Upcoming activities and events that are expected to attract more tourists to Israel in include:

    Israel Museum Fashion Exhibit: This summer Jerusalem’s Israel Museum opened Fashion Statements, the first exhibition to examine the broad spectrum of Israeli fashion design, a pioneering presentation on the origins of Israel’s trendsetting fashion design. Fashion Statements is a central part of the museum’s 2018 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. The exhibition will be open for visiting fashionistas through April 2019.

    World Lacrosse Championship: An estimated 7,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel from July 12-21 to watch or participate in the World Lacrosse Championship, taking place in the coastal city of Netanya. This will be the largest ever championship and the first one to be held in Israel. Israel’s opportunity to host the World Lacrosse Championship is thanks in part to the country’s recent success in international lacrosse competitions. Israel won second place in the 2016 European championship and seventh place in the most recent World Championship in 2014. Netanya was chosen to host the event due to the city’s achievements in sports and its success in hosting a variety of international competitions, including the European swimming championships, world surfing championships, international tennis tournaments and European football (soccer) championships.

    Jerusalem Beer Festival: More than 120 different beers from Israeli and international breweries will be represented at this year’s Jerusalem Beer Festival, taking place Aug. 29-30. The festival is celebrating its 14th year, with more than 20,000 visitors expected to attend to taste the beers from well-known brands and local boutique breweries. This event has become an annual party, putting Jerusalem on the map with dozens of other top beer locales around the world. The beers at this year’s festival will come from Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Thailand and more.

    Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) also redesigned and launched a mobile app to help international tourists get the most out of their vacation to Israel from the early planning stages to their time exploring on the ground. The app is tailored to travelers’ specific needs and areas of interest and users can search by specific cities and regions, restaurants and hotels, or different categories near their vicinity on a map. The application has several other features that come in handy for visitors, including a currency conversion calculator. Android users can download from Google Play and iOS users can download from the App Store.

    IMOT is Israel’s national tourism agency responsible for planning and implementing marketing and promotional initiatives to position Israel as a preferred travel destination. The ministry aims to increase tourism traffic to contribute to Israel’s economy and enhance and diversify the visiting experience for travelers. IMOT works to promote Israel’s wide array of historical, cultural, culinary and religious attractions. IMOT offices in North America are located in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and Toronto. For more information on upcoming events and attractions in Israel, click on Israel Ministry of Tourism’s website at

      By James Shillinglaw

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