My impression that there were too many tourists in Israel last month was correct. In fact, there has never been more tourists in the history of the nation. Haaretz reports:
Nearly 300,000 tourists visited Israel in May, an all-time record, the Ministry of Tourism said.
The number of tourists was five percent higher than May of 2000, Israel’s record year for tourism, and at the current pace, 2.8 million tourists are on track to visit by the end of the year, according to the ministry….
By 2012, the ministry’s goal is to attract five million tourists, have 220,000 workers employed in the tourism industry and have tourism revenues of NIS 43 billion.
Goals are good, but it might be wise for the budgeters to keep in mind that 5 months after Israel’s record-breaking May 2000, tourism nearly ground to a halt for about 3 years.
If the optimists are right, you’re best to avoid the month of May in future years if possible. You know it’s going to be bad when there are no seats left for your group’s flight in a year in advance (that’s my situation for next May). Here are some advantages to going in other months:
- February: no tourists (but potentially lots of rain)
- March: everything is green and wildflowers are everywhere
- August: no tourists (but you’ll know why as you hesitate to get off the air-conditioned bus)
- October: possibly my favorite month of the year in Israel, with great temperatures and no rain
- December: clearer air (less haze) means better panoramic views