A total of 3.1 million tourists visited Israel in the year 2015, according to figures released on Monday, January 11 by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Additionally, an all-time record was set in the number of Israeli departures abroad with almost six million departures.
The number of tourist arrivals represents a 4% decrease compared to 2014. The number of incoming tourists gradually increased between January and September, but the number plummeted from October to December due to the security situation caused by the upsurge in terror attacks by Palestinians.
“This past year was challenging because we were still recovering from Operation Protective Edge,” Tourism Ministry Spokesperson Anat Shihor-Aronson told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) last week, referring to the Gaza operation in the summer of 2014. “But we were also very successful as we almost reached the numbers we had in 2013.”
The largest number of incoming tourists in 2015 came from the United States with 637,000 arrivals, representing a 2% increase compared to the 2014 statistic.
A total of 415,000 tourists visited from Russia, representing a 25% decrease compared to the previous year. “We have to take into consideration that Russia is facing an economic crisis so we are still increasing our budget in regards to promoting Israel as a Russian tourist destination,” said Shilor-Aronson to TPS.
Other countries serving as the origin for the largest numbers of tourists visiting Israel in 2015 were France, Germany, the UK, Ukraine and Italy, respectively.
Meanwhile, the number of Israelis traveling abroad set an all-time record. A total of 5.9 million departures by Israeli citizens were recorded in 2015, representing an increase of 15% compared to 2014. More than a quarter of all departures were made during the summer months of July and August.
More than 3 million Israeli citizens traveled abroad during the year, representing a 12% increase over the previous year with 1.2 million of them departing the country more than once.
The CBS estimated the sharp increase in the number of departures to be a result of the introduction of low-cost flights in Israel and a result of the high value of the Israeli currency (the shekel) compared to the US dollar and the Euro.