Israel’s tourism sector experienced a strong rebound in 2022, welcoming close to 2.7 million tourists back after pandemic closures.
This injected nearly $4 billion back into the economy and helped Israel get back on track toward a record-breaking year of tourism in 2023.
A statement from the Minister of Tourism explained what the department is looking forward to the most in the new year.
“2022 was a year of recovery from the corona crisis. The trend is positive and breaking the incoming tourism record of 2019 is a realistic goal on the horizon. Domestic tourism has proven itself as an economic force just as essential as incoming tourism. Our goal is to reduce obstacles, to launch projects that increase the accommodation supply and develop infrastructure, to fully realize the tourism potential in the country.”
Tourism quickly picked up as borders fully opened up in March 2022 and the effortless Israel eVisa became available once more.
New Minister of Tourism
The year started off with the inauguration of a new Israeli Minister of Tourism, with Haim Katz taking over from Yoel Razvozov.
During his inauguration, Katz highlighted a few of his goals for 2023, emphasizing the importance of effective financial management.
“The ministry plays a major role in strengthening the economy and promoting the beautiful face of Israel. Our goal is to reach new records. We must utilize to the full every budget, there can be no such thing as returning money to the Finance Ministry. We must continue to improve services for tourists, for incoming tourists and Israeli tourists alike. We will work to improve infrastructure and increase the supply of accommodation options. Every Israeli family should be able to enjoy the beauty of our country and find a place to stay that suits their personal budget.”
New Tourism destinations in Israel
The UN World Tourism Organization has recognized Kfar Kama as a “Tourist Village”, making it the latest addition to a global network of villages supported by the organization.
“Kfar Kama, which has been chosen by the UN World Tourism Organization, will become a center for pilgrimage by many tourists and will have an important positive impact on the rural surroundings”, the former Tourism Minister, Yoel Razvozov said.
Minister Katz also mentioned 2 regions that should be getting a lot more attention in the coming months:
“We will invest in areas that may not have received sufficient support to date. For example, our local Tuscany in Judea and Samaria.” He also added that “Every Israeli family should be able to enjoy the beauty of our country and find accommodation options that
suit their economic ability.”
Big Cash Injection for Israel’s tourism industry
Close to $100 million has been made available to facilitate the establishment and upkeep of tourism infrastructure in 2023.
Local authorities applied for funds to create parking lots, promenades, bridges, sound and light shows, renovate markets and public spaces, unique lighting, trails, parks, observation points and more.
Minister Katz explained that the value of this investment lies mainly in the potential for returning tourism.
“Improvement of infrastructure and beautification upgrades the tourist experience and encourages returning tourism. I have asked the ministry to prepare a directive for the support budget for 2023, that will place an emphasis on budgetary efficiency alongside maximizing the tourism potential.”
There were around 210 applications and as many as 160 of them were approved after meeting the criteria for funding.
Jerusalem marathon attracts thousands
The first major event on Israel’s tourism calendar is the 12th annual Winner Marathon in Jerusalem.
The race pits runners against the steep hills and inclines of Jerusalem and takes them through the old and new neighborhoods, making it one of the most beautiful and difficult races of its kind.
Jerusalem’s Mayor, Moshe Lion, released a statement, announcing his excitement for the race and emphasizing the value of an event of this scale in the city.
“We are excited to announce the opening of the Jerusalem ‘Winner’ Marathon events and celebrate 12 years of activity, in which hundreds of thousands of runners from Israel and around the world have participated. Jerusalem invites professional athletes and sports enthusiasts to register and take part in one of the most remarkable sports events in Israel while enjoying an unforgettable running experience that includes getting to know significant landmarks in the history of Jerusalem.”
The race finishes at Sacher Park and some of the highlights along the route include the Walls of Jerusalem, the Armenian Quarter, the Tower of David and the Sultan’s Pool.
There are 6 races runners can register for, starting from the short 0.8 km Community Race and 1.5 km Family Race to the popular 5km and 10km races and going up to the lengthy half-marathon and full-marathon.
The marathon takes place on March 17 and registration closes on March 1.