ISRAEL - Tourism Back to Pre-Pandemic High

Arno Froese

As Summer gradually draws to a close, a report from the Tourism Ministry shows that Israel’s hot (and lately rocket-heavy) weather this year hasn’t put a damper on incoming tourism. In fact, the tourism industry is on its way to record highs, currently falling only 22% shy of 2019’s record numbers.

The sharp dip from July 2019’s recent record of 322,800 was a clear casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a devastating effect on tourism around the world—a phenomenon from which Israel was not exempt.

“Everyone in the tourism industry was hanging by a thread,” he said. “We let go of 95% of our staff, similar to many other places. A few hotels kept a skeleton staff running, just because it would have cost them more to fire them.”

Regardless, after an arduous period, the tourists are finally coming back, and based on the pace of entries so far, the ministry estimates that the anticipated annual total for incoming tourism in 2022 will range between 2.2 to 2.5 million people—again about half of 2019’s 4.4 million.

-www.jpost.com, 9 August 2022

Arno's Commentary

Not all are happy. Mark Feldman, CEO of Ziontours, states: “The Israeli government said ‘close the skies down,’ and that lockdown resulted in the Omicron variant coming to Israel much later than the rest of the world, which pushed us back even further.” Yet, Israel’s quick and strict enforcement—closing down the country by air, sea, and land—paid off. Statistica reported corona-related deaths per one million population, with Peru being the worst at 6,481 deaths, USA 3,099, and Israel only 1,204.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 1.5 billion international tourist arrivals were recorded in 2019. Post-pandemic estimates have seen rapid growth. That means significantly more international tourists will spend their money in other countries. For 2019, the global tourism industry was listed as an $8.9 trillion business, with the top five destinations being: 1) France: 90 million; 2) Spain: 83.7 million; 3) USA: 79.3 million; 4) China: 65.7 million; and 5) Italy: 64.5 million.

Those who have traveled often to Israel find it rather difficult to imagine that in 2019, 4.4 million people visited Israel. How this country can handle such a volume of tourists is nothing short of amazing. According to cia.gov, Israel, with a population of about 9 million, has at its disposal barely 22,000 square kilometers. France, with a population of 68.3 million, has an area of over 643,000 sq. km. 

What we know from Scripture is that after the Great Tribulation—which will reduce the world population dramatically—the remnant of the nations is ordered, under the threat of no rain, to pilgrimage to Jerusalem: “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain” (Zechariah 14:16-17).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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