Israel’s Tourism Boom Continues, Will it Welcome Record Number of Pilgrims?

September 4, 2018

2 min read

It has been apparent for the last few years that Israel is experiencing a tourism boom – and the latest figures from the country’s Ben Gurion International Airport support this. According to Globes, August saw a record 2.7 million arrivals and departures – the airport’s busiest month in its history and a 10-percent increase on August 2017.

July also saw a 10.6-percent increase from the same period in the previous year and authorities are anticipating a record-breaking September, not least because the Jewish High Holy Days and other festivals fall earlier this year, according to the Gregorian calendar. It should be noted that pilgrims coming to Israel will include both Christians and Jews, particularly around Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16)

In addition to travelers arriving in Israel during this season, many Israelis also travel abroad for the holidays. Some of their favorite destinations include the United States, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Russia.

Before Rosh Hashanah, which this year begins Sunday evening, September 9, approximately 30,000 ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews will make their annual pilgrimage to Uman in central Ukraine. Despite the ongoing to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, the late-18th century founder of Hasidic Judaism.

Israel has set up, for the first time, a temporary consulate in Uman to assist travelers in case they get into any difficulties during their stay.

On every Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which this year begins Tuesday evening, September 18, Ben Gurion completely shuts down, with the last takeoff and landing in the afternoon, at 1:55 and 1:40 p.m., respectively.

The airport will reopen Wednesday evening, September 19, with the first landing at 9:30 pm and the first departure at 11:30 p.m.

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