The tourism industry contributed some 40 billion shekels ($10.4 billion) and 160,000 jobs to Israel's economy
Israel's Tourism Ministry said last Sunday that a record 3.03 million tourists visited Israel in 2008, up 32% from 2007. In a detailed summery of 2008 based on data collated before Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip, the ministry noted that the tourism industry contributed some 40 billion shekels ($10.4 billion) and 160,000 jobs to Israel's economy.
Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila said in a statement issued following the publication of the 2008 figures that "The tourism industry represents one of the most important growth engines in the Israeli economy”.
The largest number of touristslast year came from the United States at 617,000, a record level. Some 356,000 entered from Russia, up 84%. Tourism from Germany increased by 40%.
Tourism numbers had risen in recent years in tandem with an easing of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, leading to a drop in the number of suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli targets.