The Vatican has announced that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Israel from May 8-11, during which he will tour the Western Wall, as well as Christian and Jewish holy sites.
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, will host and escort the Pope. This is the Pope’s first visit since accompanying Pope John Paul II in 2000. This will most likely boost Israel’s tourism numbers, which did see a climb in 2008. The destination saw an increase in tourist groups this past year, with more than 900,000 tourists arriving in Israel with groups—a 32 percent increase to the previous year. The Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association reports that Israel plans to invest in the building of 30,000 new hotel rooms in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to accommodate the five million tourists expected to arrive by 2015.