The Tourism Ministry announced in a statement Thursday that an all-time record for the number of entries into Israel was broken in December 2013 — with 272,000 people entering over the month, and over 3.5 million for the year — the Tourism Ministry announced in a statement Thursday
The Central Bureau of Statistics also reported that tourist entries rose 0.5% to 3.53 million in 2013 from 3.52 million in 2012. Tourist entries by air rose 4% to 2.58 million in 2013 from 2.48 million in 2012, although entries by direct flights to Eilat fell to 58,500 from 59,500.
Tourist entries by land from Egypt and Jordan also fell 6% from 403,900 tourists in 2012 to 381,500 tourists in 2013. The number of day visitors fell from 634,500 in 2012 to 578,000 in 2013, but the number of cruise ship visitors rose from 251,100 to 256,800.
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau warmly welcomed the figures, saying "the year 2013 is a record year for tourism and we are proud of that. Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the security situation in the region, tourists voted with their feet." The leading home countries for incoming tourism were said to be the United States, Russia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.
The US was the largest source of tourists in 2013, with 623,000 entries, followed by Russia with 603,000. France was in third place, with 316,000 tourists; followed by Germany, with 254,000; the UK, with 217,000, and Italy, with 160,000. Tourism’s contribution to Israel’s economy was reported to be some NIS 40 billion ($11.42 billion).