Today’s newsreels are filled with a barrage of terrorist attacks and political unrest. It almost feels as though these types of reports have become as pervasive as reports of the local weather. While the world continues to experience a dramatic increase of terrorist attacks and worrisome economic distress, these concerns are evidently not holding people back from travelling. According to the World Tourism Organization, global tourism remains strong overall.
Upon the newly released 2016 visitor arrival statistics, it was revealed that an astounding total of 3,068,909 tourists visited Israel, an overall increase in tourism of 3.6% compared to 2015. The United States played the biggest role with its 672,071 tourists, a 5% increase from 2015. In fact, the U.S is the biggest contributor to the success of tourism in Israel and this helped to balance the major 31% decline in tourism from countries such as Russia and most of the European countries.
Another surprising statistic describes how travelers from Asia have also surged with an astonishing 31% increase from 2015. The highest number of Asian visitors hailed from China and India.
This rate of change can be credited in large part to the 500 million Israeli shekels marketing budget available to the Ministry of Tourism this past year. This is the largest amount allocated to marketing the Israeli Ministry of Tourism has ever been granted. A significant portion of this budget was aimed at expanding to new markets such as China, India, and the Philippines. Another considerable portion of the budget was aimed toward expanding the appeal of Israel from strictly a biblical destination to an enticing vacation spot. While the majority of travelers continues to be religious pilgrims seeking to explore the holy sites, there has also been a boom in travelers seeking the exciting nightlife, pristine beaches, world renowned cuisine, and cultural melting pot that Israel offers.
Like much of the rest of the world, Israel is no stranger to terrorism. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to impact the region, as one can see with the recent attack on a group of soldiers in Jerusalem that could potentially be linked to ISIS. Yet, tourist buses continue to fill up with no sign of slowing down. Perhaps this is due to the incredible safety record that remains strong among tourists even though such conflicts continue to occur as well as the strong demand by tourists worldwide to experience this ancient land.
Reputable companies such as America Israel Tours are taking diligent measures to ensure the sustained record of traveler safety, which in turn leads to a continued increase in tourism. Safety procedures are being implemented daily. America Israel Tours also suggests calling ahead to assess the current conditions at each of the sites on the itinerary and consistently checking with the police and tourist office for potential updates.
Those who do not allow fear and alarming reports to overwhelm their sense of adventure find that they can continue to travel without regret. We certainly cannot ignore the current circumstances of our world, but when travelers venture out to their favorite destinations they are met with far more experiences of kindness and hospitality than danger and hate.
This article was written by Noam Matas, General Manager of America Israel Tours, 877-248-8687.