Globes is reporting a record year for tourism in Israel, surpassing the record set in 2000.
Minister of Tourism Ruhama Avraham-Balila today announced that three million tourists visited Israel in 2008, 30% more than in 2007. She made the announcement at a press conference summarizing the year in tourism. Ministry of Tourism figures show that the tourism industry generated NIS 25 billion in 2008, 9% more than in 2007. Indirect output from the tourism industry is estimated at NIS 40 billion. The increase in tourists boosted employment by the industry by 10% compared with last year, to about 90,000 people. Avraham-Balila said that she has approached her Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts to convene a regional tourism conference. "I’m aware of the bureaucratic hurdles involved in investing in Israel, which is why we’re now setting up an assistance office for investors, which will advise them from the moment they buy land or win a tender, through the inauguration of a hotel. In the coming weeks, the ministry will convene tourism industry business leaders to examine preparations for 2009. The goal is to retain the number of incoming tourists." The Ministry of Tourism said that it expects 3,000 hotel rooms to be built by 2012.