Israel’s Tourism Ministry’s aggressive pitch to bring Christians to visit Israel has paid off with another record-breaking year for visitors, led by Americans and Russians who accounted for nearly 35 percent of tourists.
Three-quarters of the tourists visited Jerusalem, and 68 percent arrived at the Western Wall, Israel’s most popular attraction.
Only 28 percent of the visitors in 2013 were Jewish, reflecting the ministry’s campaign aimed at Christians, who accounted for 53 percent of incoming tourists. Half of them were Catholic.
Tourism now accounts for approximately 56 percent of the work force.
December saw an even greater increase in the number of visitors, with a 14 percent rise over the same month in 2012.. A visitor is defined as one who stays at least one night in a hotel. The number of day visitors decreased last month.
The average U.S. visitor spent $1,865 per trip, not including the flight.