Israel set a new tourism record for the first half of 2018, according to the latest statistics from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, from January to June 2018 about 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded—an increase of 19 percent over the same period in 2017 (1.74 million) and 26 percent more than in 2016. That translates into more than NIS 12 billion ($3.3 billion) for the Israeli economy.
The United States remains the largest source country for incoming tourists, with 470,200 tourist entries in 2018, 17 percent more than 2017. More Canadians than ever are also traveling to Israel with a 14 percent visitor increase in 2018 compared to 2017.
The Ministry of Tourism also shared a number of new hotel openings, upcoming events and tech updates to keep in mind:
The Drisco – After a $35 million investment and more than a decade of intensive work led by Architect and Interior Designer Ari Shaltiel, The Drisco hotel officially opened for reservations in June. The 42-room hotel in Tel Aviv is close to the beaches, Rothschild Blvd, the neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, Jaffa's flea market and Old Jaffa.
The Dave South – Brown Hotels is opening The Dave South in September 2018 in the Nahalat Binyamin area of Tel Aviv. The property joins The Dave West, the inaugural property that opened earlier this year in Brown Hotels’ new brand of low cost, youthful boutique hotels in Tel Aviv.
The Lighthouse Hotel – The Lighthouse Hotel, another new property by Brown Hotels, is opening in July 2018. A block away from the Tel Aviv beaches, the new Lighthouse Hotel will have 103 rooms with sea and city views, wellness center, a private and corporate event complex, rooftop garden and a fashionable Rooftop Bar with 360° views of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. Two outdoor swimming pools will be added by the summer of 2020.
The Link Hotel & Hub – Dan Hotels announced the opening of a new business property in the center of Tel Aviv called the Link Hotel & Hub. At an investment of more than $11 million, this new hotel is aimed at the new generation of business travelers and tourists, offering a concept of "connecting" contemporary design, Tel Aviv’s vibrant social scene, street art and advanced technology.
The Setai, Sea of Galilee Expansion – The Setai-Sea of Galilee, one of two properties within The Setai Hotels brand portfolio in Israel, will add 47 new standalone "Kinneret Villas," each with a private garden and an infinity pool, in August 2018. Having officially opened in June 2017 with 110 villas and suites, The Setai Sea of Galilee is a pastoral spa resort situated on the eastern shore of the historic Sea of Galilee (or Kinneret) that overlooks Northern Israel.
Israel Museum Fashion Exhibit – This summer, Jerusalem’s Israel Museum opened Fashion Statements, the first exhibition to examine the broad spectrum of Israeli fashion design. Fashion Statements is a central part of the Museum’s 2018 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. The exhibition will be open for visiting fashionistas through April 2019.
World Lacrosse Championship – An estimated 7,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel from July 12-21 to watch or participate in the World Lacrosse Championship, taking place in the coastal city of Netanya. This will be the largest ever championship and the first one to be held in Israel. Israel’s opportunity to host the World Lacrosse Championship is thanks in part to the country’s recent success in the international lacrosse arena, in which Israel won second place in the 2016 European championship and seventh place in the most recent World Championship in 2014. Netanya was chosen to host the event due to the city’s achievements in sports and its success in hosting a variety of international competitions, including the European swimming championships, world surfing championships, international tennis tournaments and European football (soccer) championships.
Jerusalem Beer Festival – More than 120 different beers from Israeli and international breweries will be represented at this year’s Jerusalem Beer Festival, taking place from August 29-30. The festival is celebrating its 14th year, with over 20,000 visitors expected to attend to taste the beers from big well-known brands to local boutique breweries. The beers at this year's festival will come from countries including Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Thailand and more.
Mobile App – The Israel Ministry of Tourism redesigned and launched a mobile app to help international tourists get the most out of their vacation to Israel from the early planning stages to their time exploring on the ground. The app is tailored to travelers’ specific needs and areas of interest and users can search via specific cities and regions, restaurants and hotels, or by searching different categories near their vicinity on a map. The application has several other features that come in handy for visitors, including a currency conversion calculator.