The number of incoming tourists in 2017 bettered the previous record by some 700,000 visitors, according to figures released by the Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday.
The United States was the leading country of origin for incoming tourists to Israel, followed by Russia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. More than half of tourists to Israel were Christian, with 25% visiting as religious pilgrims. 5% of tourists came from the UK.
Jerusalem was Israel’s most-visited city, followed by Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea, Tiberias, and Sea of Galilee.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that the the news was unsurprising and part of a “clear policy” of his ministry which has brought Israel “an unprecedented record in incoming tourism”.
In a statement, the tourism ministry highlighted new 2017 marketing campaigns, collaboration with online agents Expedia and TripAdvisor, and its foray into Polish and Romanian markets as contributing to the increase.
Also supporting the growth was the opening of 18 new air routes into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport in 2017. A new route between Shanghai and Israel contributed to a 46% increase from 2016 in tourism from China.