Poll: Yerushalayim Top Destination for Foreign Tourists

The Kosel plaza. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A poll of incoming tourists by the Tourism Ministry indicates that the state earned NIS 20.88 billion ($5.5 billion) from tourism in 2018. The poll, of 15,000 people, was administered by the Martens-Hoffman organization and scientifically determined to include a cross-reference of all tourists to Israel. The figure does not include plane tickets, only money spent in the country.

Yerushalayim was the most popular city for tourists, with 77.5% spending at least one night in the city. Tel Aviv had 67.4% of all visitors, followed by the Dead Sea (48%), and Teveria (36.2%). 93.3% said that their visit to Israel was “excellent” or “very good.”

Tourists spend on average $1,402 each while in Israel in 2018, down slightly from the $1,421 spent per capita in 2017. Of the 2018 amount, $657 was spent on hotel or other overnight stays, $236 on outings and entertainment, $155 on shopping, and $207 on food and meals. 53.2% of visitors said that their time in Israel influenced their view of the country in a positive manner, while 1.2% said it turned them against the country. 45.6% said their views had not changed.

The Kosel was the most visited site, with 71.6% saying they had gone there. It was followed by main church in the Old City of Yerushalayim (52.2%), Old Yaffo (51%), Har Hazeisim (47.4%), the Via Dolorosa (46.8%), the Tel Aviv Port (37.7%) and the Jewish Quarter (30.9%). 54.9% of visitors were Christians, 27.5% Jewish and 2.4% Muslims. 20.7% were age 24 or less, 35.8% between the ages of 25 and 44, 19.4% were age 44-55, and 24.1% over age 55.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said that “2018 was a record year for tourism in Israel, with over 4 million visitors. Over half are returning visitors, and this is not by chance. The increase in the number of tourists is the result of marketing strategy by the ministry, and we expect these numbers to increase for 2019.”

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