Israel welcomed the 3 millionth tourist to visit the country during 2017 in a ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport Tuesday, setting a new annual record with nearly two months to go in the calendar year.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and Tourism Ministry Director General Amir Halevi greeted the tourist, Ioana Isac of Romania, who said she had come to celebrate her birthday in Israel with her boyfriend, Mihai Georgescu, with flowers and a red carpet. The couple was awarded a hotel upgrade, a ride in a limousine, a helicopter tour and a private dinner prepared by noted chef Nir Tzuk. In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave them a personal tour of the Tower of David.
Levin said the growing tourism sector in Israel is a vote of confidence in the country’s investment in tourism infrastructure in recent years, and added that the record shows that Israel has become a tourist destination not only for right-wingers, but for people looking for an enjoyable holiday spot. He also said the current pace of tourism has outstripped the previous record by more than 500,000 people.
“We’re only at the beginning of November,” Levin said. “We’ll have another half a million tourists visit by the end of the year. Our collaborations with airlines and the connections that we maintain with tour operators – all these are bearing fruit and have added about NIS 17 billion and thousands of jobs to the local economy.”
The tourism ministry said in a statement that from January – October 2017, 63,000 tourists arrived from Romania, compared to 40,100 in the same period in 2016 (an increase of 57 percent) and 37,400 in 2015.