Data on visitor arrivals to Israel in 2016

January 10, 2017

Bottom line:  At last, things are looking up for the battered Israeli tourist sector. After nine months of little to no growth, data for the last quarter of 2016 show a sharp increase in tourist arrivals, on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Overall in 2016, tourist arrivals rose while day-trips and cruise-ship visits dropped.

Specifics:

  • The total number of visitor arrivals to Israel in 2016 was 3.07mn, 1.2% less than in 2015 and 5.6% below the 2014 total.
  • Of this total, 2.9mn of the arrivals were tourists (defined as those leaving on a different day from the one on which they arrived), an increase of 3.6% over the 2015 figure and less than 1% below that of 2014.
  • Arrivals by air rose 4.5% over 2015, to 2.62mn. Arrivals on direct flights to Eilat jumped 43%, thanks to the opening of a civilian section of the Ovda airfield.
  • The number of day visitors plunged by 45%, to 324,000, with those arriving overland (from Jordan or Egypt) down 67% — mainly reflecting a 72% collapse in arrivals from Egyptian Sinai via the Taba crossing.
  • Cruise passenger visits also dropped, by 22% to 87,600.
  • A mixed picture emerged with regard to tourist arrivals from the leading source countries: the number of American tourists was again by far the greatest, at 648,000 — an increase of 4.5% over 2015.
  • However, tourism from both France and Russia, the next two largest source countries, fell by 2% to 287,000 and by 9.5% to 266,000, respectively.
  • Even among European countries there was no uniformity: the number of British and German tourists rose, by 4% to 181,000 and by 3% to 164,000, respectively.

Remarkably, the strongest national increase among the main source countries was from crisis-bound Ukraine: up 17% to 132,000 — no doubt propelled by the growing availability of cheap package tours on charter airlines.

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