More than a quarter million tourists visited Israel in August 2009, a similar number to August 2008, according to Arie Sommer, Israel Tourism Commissioner, North and South America. "2008 was the best year in history for tourism to Israel," Sommer observed, "so this August 2009 result may well mean that the downturn is behind us, and there is light on the horizon."
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov noted that the targeted marketing efforts of the tourism ministry in the last few months are yielding results. "The new marketing positioning of Israel as the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at its center, will continue to lead the Israel tourism industry into growth," he said.
The U.S. is the number one source of tourists to Israel, followed by Russia, Britain and France, the agency reports. "The ever-increasing number of flights to Israel is surely part of the reason for this good news," Sommer said.
In July, US Airways commenced daily nonstop service from Philadelphia to Israel. "Including the flights of El Al, Continental and Delta, there are as many as 10 nonstop flights every day from the US to Tel Aviv,” Sommer said.