According to the Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, approximately 325,600 tourist entries were recorded in December 2018, 12.2 percent more than December 2017 and 31 percent more than December 2017. Revenue from tourism in December reached about $460 million (NIS 1.7 billion).
Over 4.1 million tourist entries have been recorded in Israel in the period January – December 2018, an increase of about 14 percent compared to the same period last year. Revenue from tourism in 2018 reached about $5.8 billion (about NIS 22 billion).
“In 2018, we have reached an amazing and historic record with over 4.12 million tourists arriving in Israel. We have broken incoming tourism records and this achievement is the direct result of intensive work that we are doing at the Tourism Ministry,” said Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin. “This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world. Incoming tourism makes a huge contribution to both Israel’s economy and its image.”
In 1978, Israel passed the 1 million tourist mark, thirty years after the establishment of the State. While it took 16 years to add the next one million tourists (in 1994) and 23 years to reach three million tourists (in 2017), it took just two years to reach four million.
“This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year. This is the result of hard and strenuous work in recent years, as part of a revolution in the way that Israel is marketed around the world as a tourist destination,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said. “We are optimistic about 2019 that begins with the opening of the new international airport at Timna, that will enable us to continue bringing new flights to Eilat. What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world. "
The top six source countries to Israel for incoming tourism are the United States (897,100), France (346,000), Russia (316,000), Germany (262,500), UK (217,900) and Italy (150,600).
In 2018, leading international market research firm EuroMonitor named Jerusalem as the fastest-growing tourism destination in the world – more than any other city in the world.
Forty percent of tourists who arrived in Israel in 2018 were returning tourists who have already visited Israel. In 2018, 61 percent of all tourists were Christian, 22 percent were Jews, 12.1 percent were not affiliated, 1.8 percent were Muslim, 0.6 percent were Buddhists, 0.5 percent were Hindus, and 0.1 percent were Bahais and 1.7 percent others.
As in previous years, the Ministry of Tourism gave grants to entrepreneurs to encourage the establishment, expansion and conversion of hotels in various cities, from north to south. This year, NIS 145 million was allocated to help entrepreneurs build 3,829 new rooms, representing an annual year on year growth of 49% (2017: 2,566 new rooms; 2016: 1,936 new rooms and in 2015: 1,333 new rooms).