Photo Credit: Hadas Parush / Flash 90
Sunset on the beach of the southern Israeli city of Eilat on the coast of the Red Sea

The State of Israel saw a rise in European winter tourism to the Red Sea resort city of Eilat this past season, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

During the 2017/2018 winter season, 145,841 tourists from Europe landed in Ovda airport, according to the latest statistics. The ministry credited its airline incentive program with the rise in tourism, and said the increase injected approximately NIS 680 million into the Israeli economy.

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Next winter (2018/2019), new airlines will open routes to Ovda airport, including among others, Lufthansa subsidiary Edelweiss from Zurich, Switzerland, and Transavia from Amsterdam.

The Tourism Ministry incentive program has led to an increase in the number of destinations from which there are direct flights to Israel, as well as a significant increase in the number of weekly flights to the Jewish State — from a handful, to about 50 flights per week.

“The Eilat flight directive proves itself again and again,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, “with an increase in incoming tourism for the third consecutive year, placing Eilat back on the international map. The ministry’s efforts in marketing Israel’s south and desert as an attractive vacation destination with a comfortable climate most of the year, combined with grants for entrepreneurs and the development of tourism infrastructure, accommodation and hospitality units, is bringing us to new records in incoming tourism to Israel,” Levin added.

The ministry’s “Sunny” campaign has been very successful, with more than 200 million unique viewers across Europe and generating more than 13 million clicks to the various landing pages where users remained on average for more than a minute. More than 1.6 million unique visitors were driven to pages selling vacation packages to Israel. In addition, the campaign has been exposed to more than 60 million potential tourists in more than 10 countries on various European television channels.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.