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Israeli tourism continues steady recovery

The number of incoming tourists is still below pre-COVID figures, but up dramatically from last year

Passengers at the arrival hall Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Feb. 6, 2023. (Photo: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Israel recorded 590,500 entries into the country in the January and February, a sharp increase from the 137,400 entries in the first two months of 2022, but still below the 695,500 entries during the same months of 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic caused closures and lockdowns. 

Tourism numbers have been increasing steadily since last May, when Israel fully removed entry restrictions. Nevertheless, the number of returning tourists is still below Israel’s record of 4.5 million tourists in 2019. 

During February 2023, 569,100 Israelis traveled abroad, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. exceeding pre-pandemic levels.

Israel's EL AL Airlines reported a Q4 profit due to increased flights in 2022, which was the first fourth-quarter profit for the company since 2015. 

One new popular destination for Israelis is the United Arab Emirates. Israel and the UAE opened their borders in 2020 after signing the Abraham Accords normalization agreement. During the last ten months of 2022, more than 150,000 Israelis visited the UAE.  

Pini Shani, senior vice president of the Israel Ministry of Tourism, believes 2023 will be an excellent year for Israeli tourism. 

“During 2022, we’ve already bounced back with exceptional tourist entries from our primary source countries – USA, Germany, France and Italy,” Shani said. “The Abraham Accords is a fantastic opportunity for the UAE and Israel to build lasting relationships and historic cultural bonds.” 

Shani said that only around 1,600 Emirati nationals visited Israel in the last 10 months of 2022. 

“UAE nationals and expats need more time to explore what Israel can offer them as a tourism destination,” he said. 

While Shani expects the number of Israelis visiting the UAE to stay fairly constant, he believes “the number of visitors from the UAE will increase dramatically in the upcoming years.” 

Currently, there are sone 70 weekly flights between Israel and the UAE, operated by Emirates, Flydubai, Etihad, EL AL and Israir airlines. 

Read more: TOURISM

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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