JERUSALEM, Israel – The challenges facing Israel on its borders and the negative publicity from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and other anti-Israel efforts are failing to isolate the Jewish state. In fact, the tourism industry is flourishing.
In the first half of 2018, the tourism sector broke the 2 million mark, with 2.1 million tourist entries recorded, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported. That's a 19 percent increase from the same period last year and a 26 percent increase from 2016.
In June, 310,000 tourists entered Israel, with revenue tipping the scales at 1.66 billion shekels ($456,599,600).
In the first six months of 2018, tourists brought a whopping 12 billion shekels (more than $3,300 billion) into the Israeli economy.
Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says it's the result of intensive marketing efforts.
"The marketing efforts and activities that we are spearheading in the ministry are leading us to new records, as, for the first time, we have crossed the 2 million threshold for tourist entries over the course of half a year," Levin reported.
He attributed the increase to "the fruit" of those marketing efforts worldwide.
"In advance of the winter season, we are already seeing an increase in the number of flights from Europe to Eilat, with new airlines joining this momentum," he added.
While many are first-time visitors, there are lots who come to Israel on a regular basis year after year.
Levin said all tourism-related sectors will benefit from the tens of billions of dollars injected into the Israeli economy annually from the tourism sector.
Interestingly, during the Second Intifada (armed Palestinian uprising), which began in September 2000 and continued through 2004, terror attacks convinced many to plan their vacations elsewhere, severely affecting the tourism sector. During this difficult period, Christians continued to come, pray for and support the Jewish state.