Tourism in Israel
tourism in israel is one of israel's major sources of income with a record 4.55 million tourist arrivals in 2019 and in 2017 contributed nis 20 billion to the israeli economy making it an all-time record for practical reasons this article also covers tourism in the israeli-occupied west bank and the golan heights since it is closely interconnected with the mass tourism in israel israel offers a plethora of historical and religious sites beach resorts natural sites archaeological tourism heritage tourism adventure tourism and ecotourism israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world as of 2007 the two most visited jewish religious sites were the western wall and the grave of rabbi shimon bar yochai the most visited christian holy sites are the church of the holy sepulchre in jerusalem the church of the nativity in the west bank town of bethlehem and the basilica of the annunciation in nazareth israel the most visited islamic religious places are the al-aqsa mosque on the temple mount in jerusalem and the ibrahimi mosque at the tomb of the patriarchs in the west bank town of hebron in 2017 the most popular paid tourist attraction is masada the most visited city was jerusalem and the most visited site was the western wall the largest percentage of tourists came from the united states accounting for 19 of all tourists followed by russia france germany the united kingdom china italy poland and canada most visited cities jerusalem jerusalem is the most visited city with 3.5 million tourist arrivals annually as of 2017. one of the oldest cities in the world it is the proclaimed capital of and largest city of israel if the area and population of israeli occupied east jerusalem are included it is a holy city to the three major abrahamic religions judaism christianity and islam and hosts many historical archaeological religious and other attractions west jerusalem was built starting in the 1800s with the expansion beyond the old city walls gradually expanded throughout the british mandate and continued after the creation of israel in 1948. selected tourist attractions in this area are the german colony a temple society settlement with a colorful mix of architectural styles maya sharim established in the 19th century and inhabited largely by ultra-orthodox hearty jews retains the flavor of an eastern european shtetl yad vashem holocaust memorial museum ein karam the traditional birthplace of john the baptist is one of the four most visited christian pilgrimage sites in israel mount zion the traditional resting place of king david mount scopus site of the hebrew university and standing at 2710 feet or 826 metres above sea level offers a panoramic view of the city both the temple mount and the dead sea are visible from this location east jerusalem was captured by israel in the 1967 six-day war and considered by the international community as palestinian territory held under israeli occupation although it was effectively unilaterally annexed in 1980 under the jerusalem law it is the location of the old city of jerusalem traditionally divided into four quarters the armenian quarter christian quarter muslim quarter and jewish quarter most importantly the temple mount site of the ancient temple in jerusalem with only the western wall at its foot remaining and now with the dome of the rock and al-aqsa mosque the mount of olives in kidron valley with its lookout point tomb of absalom and other jewish tombs and burial grounds dating back 3000 years and churches gethsemane church of all nations dominus flevit and the church of maria magdalene various locations have been proposed as the tomb of jesus and or as golgotha the nearby hill where he was crucified traditionally both have been believed to be in the vicinity where the church of the holy sepulchre stands immediately south of the jewish quarter lies the city of david with archeological digs including the siloam tunnel the controversial status of east jerusalem has been an issue when attempting to market jerusalem to international tourists in 2009 2010 and again in 2015 the uk advertising standards authority ruled against a series of israeli ministry of tourism advertising campaigns that displayed images and information about tourist sites located in east jerusalem the authority wrote in its ruling that the status of the occupied territory of the west bank was the subject of much international dispute and because we considered that the ad implied that the part of east jerusalem featured in the image was part of the state of israel we concluded that the ad was likely to mislead israel rejected the ruling with the ministry of tourism releasing a statement that said the ad provided basic accurate information to a prospective uk visitor the ruling from 2009 also included criticism about gaza the west bank and the golan heights being shown as part of israel tel aviv with 2.3 million tourist visits in 2013 tel aviv is israel's second largest city and a cosmopolitan cultural and financial global city the city's greater area is the largest with three million inhabitants tel aviv exhibits a unesco world heritage area of bauhaus architecture the nearby historical city of jaffa is experiencing a tourism boom in 2010 national geographic ranked tel aviv as one of the world's 10 best beach cities tel aviv is called the city that never sleeps by the locals because of its vibrant nightlife scene tel aviv was named the gay capital of the middle east by the out magazine safed is one of the four holy cities in judaism where much of the jerusalem talmud was written in the study of kabbalah developed famous for its artisans the grave of rabbi shimon bar yochai is in nearby marin around the city there are many nature reserves and archaeological sites notably the ancient synagogues acre main article acre old city in its knights hall al-jazar mosque shrine of baha'u'llah resting place of baha'u'llah as well as a unesco world heritage historical town haifa main article haifa carmel shrine of the bab its terraces and the baha'i world center and the buildings stella maris monastery telephone shikmona cave of elijah mahmoud mosque tiberius tiberius as one of the four holy cities in judaism overlooking the sea of galilee saint peter's house at capernaum tabka and the mount of beatitudes nazareth nazareth is known as the arab capital of israel visit nazareth's old city and historical sites around the city jesus's hometown and the site of many of his reported acts and miracles many churches including the church of the annunciation the largest church building in the middle east in roman catholic tradition it marks the site where the archangel gabriel announced the future birth of jesus to the virgin mary starting point for the jesus trail a network of hiking routes connecting many sites from jesus's life and ministry beersheba settlement of beersheba attributed to the patriarch abraham regional capital of the negev desert it serves as a starting point for exploring such sites as the ramon crater or the unesco world heritage nabateen incense route eilit eilit israel's southernmost city located on the red sea coast is a hot sunny year-round travel destination popular destination for skin and scuba diving with equipment for higher honor near all major beaches the aylet mountains are similar to those in sinai and there are trail roads for hiking where one can also find animals like dorcas gazelle rock hyrax striped tyina and nubian ibex aylit has big hotels and various attractions such as camel riding and the aylitz underwater observatory marine park ashkelon ashkelon is a city between gaza city in the gaza strip and ashdod the city offers many hotels in misrahee jewish restaurants local drinker rock ashkelon is also popular among tourists telephone ashkelon is a big archaeological site includes ruins from many different periods such as canaanites philistines persians phoenicians greeks romans byzantines muslims and crusaders ashkelon has no active pilgrimage site but it was one of the places where the head of hussein ibn ali before transfer to cairo was located the mosque was destroyed in 1950 but in 2001 a small compound built on the site for shia islam pilgrims from india who visiting the site there is also a well believed by muslims and christians alike which is one of abraham's wells the sand dunes between ashkelon to ashdod and between ashkelon to the gaza strip are popular attractions on this area of the sea coast landmarks outside city's masada masada is an ancient fortification in the southern district of israel situated on top of an isolated rock plateau on the eastern edge of the judean desert overlooking the dead sea herod the great built palaces for himself on the mountain and fortified masada between 37 and 31 bce according to josephus the siege of masada by troops of the roman empire towards the end of the first jewish roman war ended in the mass suicide of the 960 jewish rebels and their families hiding there masada is located 20 kilometers east of arat masada is a unesco world heritage site and israel's most popular tourist attraction only second to jerusalem quesaria quesaria's ancient city includes roman and crusader ruins such as the amphitheater and hippodrome where live concerts of classical and popular music are frequently held as well as the harbour from which saint paul was taken as a prisoner to rome it is one of israel's biggest archaeological sites bait shian bait xi'an was a roman decapolis city one of the largest archaeological sites in the middle east bait shiaram bait shiaram national park was an ancient jewish acropolis it is having many tombs of jews with many significant signs like animals and menorah it is also includes a jewish city and an ancient synagogue ruins biblical tells there are around 200 biblical tells in israel telephone is an archaeological site that is not created by nature but by ruined human settlements the biblical tells are from the bronze age and located on ancient cities that are mentioned in old testament the chosen cities are telephone hazor telephone megiddo and telephone beer shiva which are also unesco world heritage sites these telephones also have some of the most ancient water systems in the world other biblical tells around israel include jerusalem telephona rad telephone geezer and telephone lachie mount carmel prehistoric cave sites of human evolution at mount carmel nahal miyaro nature reserve is a site of human evolution at mount carmel in haifa northern israel it has four caves such as miyaratha tanner miyar at hagamal miyarat hanahal and miyarat hagetti the site was proclaimed as universal value by unesco in 2012. the site
indicates the prehistoric man's settlements and unique evidence of a first burial negev incense route incense route desert cities in the negev the negev incense route located between jordan's petra and palestine's gaza the nabateens have built many fortresses caravanserai but especially known for their four important cities of abdut mamchit shifta and haluza that located on this important trade route the negev incense route is a unesco world heritage site ancient synagogues israel as the birthplace of judaism and cradle of jewish history includes many ancient synagogues from the second temple period and byzantine muslim periods from northern to southern israel among the more impressive synagogue remains are those from capernaum magdala masada annam baram gush halev bate alpha hu nabertine ein gedi caesarea and hamat tiberius additional synagogues can be found in the israeli-occupied territories of the west bank for example sasia and herodium and the golan heights such as gamla and um el canadiere muslim shrines next to the ancient city of arsev stands the sidna ali mosque which is still in use and holds the tomb of muslim holy man on the palestinian west bank stands the even more famous and spectacular nabi muza shrine abshalom stalactite's cave afshalom cave also known as sorek cave or stalactite's cave is a 5000 m2 cave on the western side of mount yala in the judean hills in israel unique for its dense concentration of stalactites some of the stalactites found in the cave are four meters long and some have been dated as three hundred thousand years old some meet stalagmites to form stone pillars mount carcumhar carcum or jabal idiot in arabic as a mountain in the southwest negev desert in israel halfway between petra and qadesh bernaya on the basis that the israelites traveled across the sinai peninsula towards petra in a fairly straight line a number of scholars have contemplated the possibility of har kharkham being the biblical mount sinai following this theory emmanuel and i.t excavated at the mountain and discovered that it was a major paleolithic cult center with the surrounding plateau covered with shrines altars stone circles stone pillars and over 40 000 rock engravings although on the basis of his findings anati advocates the identification of har kharkham with mount sinai the peak of religious activity at the site may date to 2350 2000 bc and the mountain appears to have been abandoned perhaps between 1950 and 1000 bc the exodus is sometimes dated between 1600 and 1200 bc however no archaeological evidence has been supported by scholars to maintain a date of 1600 to 1200 bc anati instead places the exodus based on other archaeological evidence that around 2 300 bc ancient ashkelon telephone ashkelon is a big archaeological site includes ruins from many different periods such as canaanites philistines persians phoenicians greeks romans byzantines muslims and crusaders ancient beit govern and marisha bate govern mauritian national park is a national park in central israel 13 kilometers from kiryat ghat encompassing the ruins of mauritia one of the important towns of judah during the time of the first temple and bait govern an important town in the roman era when it was known as a lutheropoulous there are many muslim saints which are buried in the area the most known of them is prophet muhammad's companion to me maldari in 2014 unesco has recognized it as a world heritage site crusader castles israel's territory corresponds in part to the crusader kingdom of jerusalem and boasts many castles and city fortifications from that time although none were left intact by conquerors and the tooth of time most of them were built by the crusaders and some by their muslim enemies and the most well-known of them are the cities of acre and caesarea and the castles of belvoir montfort arseph sepharus israel also currently has control over the arab-built nimrod castle in the israeli-occupied golan heights sea of galilee sea of galilee is home to many christian and jewish holy shrines the jewish holy shrines are in tiberius and the christian sites are outside tiberius some of them are archaeological sites the sites are magdala capernaum tabka and the mount of beatitudes there are also another archaeological sites such as kersey hippos hamut tiberius telephone bet yara hereby almenia and corazon it is also have a collection of fauna and flora mount arable and the horns of hatton mount arbol lies near the sea of galilee and is a national park with a fortress and synagogue and cliff hiking the fortress was built by jewish zealots and then in the ottoman era by facradine ii on the cliffs of the mountains the ancient synagogue was built in the 5th century and survived little bit after the islamic period started the nearby area is the site of horns of hatton famous for his islamic victory of saladin at the battle of hatton and nearby this is the shrine of prophet shuaib makham el nabi shub is the holiest shrine for drew's faith the druze are making a big ciarat every year in april rosh hanikra grotto's the roshanikra grottos are cavernous tunnels formed by sea action on the soft chalk rock the total length is some 200 meters they branch off in various directions with some interconnecting segments in the past the only access to them was from the sea and experienced divers were the only ones capable of visiting today a cable car takes visitors down to see the grottos a kibbutz also named rajha nikra is located nearby the israeli city naharia is located about 10 kilometers south of roshanikra you must take a cable car to get into the grottoes the cable car is situated very close to the lebanese border maktesh craters of the negev desert a maktesh is a geological landform considered unique to the negev desert of israel amaktesh has steep walls of resistant rock surrounding a deep closed valley which is usually drained by a single wadi the valleys have limited vegetation and soil containing a variety of different colored rocks and diverse fauna and flora the best known and largest moktech is maktesh ramon other makchum are maktech gadal moktech catton and mount a reef too small moksham the maktesh is also a rare geological area ancient city of cephas cepherus was an ancient jewish city with synagogue villas baths water tunnels a crusader fortress and more an old christian tradition places there the house of saints anne and joachim the parents of the virgin mary timnahula valley hula lake park known in hebrew as agamon hahula is located in the southern part of the hula valley north of the nature reserve it was established as part of a jnf rehabilitation project in the early 1990s part of the valley was flooded again in the wake of heavy rains it was decided to develop the surrounding area and leave the flooded area intact the new site has become the second home for thousands of migrating birds in the autumn and the lake covers an area of one square kilometer interspersed with islands that serve as protected bird nesting sites it has become a major stopover for migrating birds flying from europe to africa and back and also a major bird watching site in 2011 israeli ornithologists confirmed that lake hula is a stopover point for tens of thousands of cranes migrating from finland to ethiopia every winter in israel farmers set out food for them to keep them from damaging crops near the lake telephone dan ein getty ein getty is a special nature reserve known for its big number of friendly nubian ibex and rock high racks waterfalls and there are some archaeological finds on the trail ein gedi is an oasis in the desert which is good for relaxing and for those who want to take refuge from the hot judean desert located near the dead sea keshet cave a big natural arch in israel's upper galilee which was a cave that was destroyed due to geological reasons over the years today only the arch remains and is a popular attraction for professional hiking nahal a and ein avid bird watching israel is among the world's leading destinations for bird watching with birders and ornithologists heading especially for the annual migrations that funnel through aylet and the hula valley national parks and nature reserves israel has 67 national parks and 190 nature reserves some of them are located at archaeological sites bait governed marisha is a large archaeological complex in the judean mountains cepharus is an ancient roman town with elaborate mosaics and a historic synagogue ein gedi a desert spring is a starting point for tours to masada and the dead sea hiking trails israel national trail a hiking path that crosses the entire country of israel its northern end is at dan near the international syrian and lebanese borders in the far north of the country and it extends to ayled at the southernmost tip of israel on the red sea a length of approximately 940 kilometers the trail takes about 30 to 70 days to finish if hiked continuously jerusalem trail 40 kilometers trail connects the israel national trail with jerusalem and the area of the old city jesus trail a 65 kilometers hiking and pilgrimage route in the galilee region of israel that traces roots jesus may have walked connecting many sites from his life and ministry the trail begins in nazareth and passes through cepherus cana the horns of haddon mount arbol cliffs the sea of galilee capernaum tabga the mount of beatitudes tiberius the jordan river mount tabor and mount precipice golan trail a 125 kilometres route from the slopes of mount hermon to the southern golan heights it passes many towns and settlements including maidal shams nimrod mossad bukata odim maramgolan and einsaivan valley of springs trail a 120 kilometers route in and around the jordan valley terminating in bate xi'an and on mount gilboa near kibbutz mirov the trail connects numerous springs and other historical and natural attractions sea to sea trail an 89 kilometers hiking trail in northern israel that goes from the mediterranean sea to the sea of galilee kabut seem a network of kabut seemed at the countryside some offering guest houses and country lodging they are undergoing a process of modernization and reorganization well known in israel for great contributions to israeli history politics the army and zionism long-term visitors both jewish and non-jewish can volunteer on kabut seem in exchange for food and lodging museums with over 200 museums israel has the highest number of museums per capita in the world with millions of visitors annually israel museum in jerusalem israel's national museum attracts 800 000 visitors a year tower of david museum of the history of jerusalem yad vashem israel's holocaust memorial tel aviv museum of art diaspora museum haifa museum of science and technology restaurant culture as part of its hospitality industry including hotels restaurants and wineries one of the most vibrant restaurant cultures in the mediterranean region has developed in israel since the 1990s catering to both tourists and citizens professional training for israeli chefs hotel owners some leas and vintners is of a high standard and top hotel chefs have international education and experience there are thousands of restaurants casual eateries cafes and bars in israel offering a wide range of choices in food and culinary styles in addition to middle eastern specialties there are restaurants offering a wide selection of ethnic food including italian french greek russian ethiopian balkan thai chinese american and fusion cuisine places to eat out that are typically israeli include falafel stands or kiosks which also offer extras like french fries fried eggplant salads and pickles with the falafel and the hummus which specializes in hummus and offers only a limited selection of extras the mesa mizraheet is an inexpensively priced restaurant that serves a basic selection of nice salads followed by grilled meat with french fries fried kiva and simple desserts while steaky oat are restaurants which serve a meas of salads followed by skewered grilled meats particularly miura virus and kebabs are sometimes by kivistu like kiva in okra and tomatoes too beef stew cafes are common in urban areas and function as meeting places both for socializing and conducting business they commonly serve coffee tea fruit juice and soft drinks and almost all serve baked goods and sandwiches many also serve light meals most have outdoor seating to take advantage of israel's temperate weather and tel aviv is particularly well known for its cafe culture tea is also served in cafes from plain brewed russian style with sugar to tea with lemon or milk and middle eastern style with mint there is also a strong coffee drinking culture in israel and coffee is prepared in many ways such as instant iced latte italian style espresso or turkish coffee wineries and no tourism is a growing part of the tourism sector in israel in early 2008 it was announced that a 150-acre wine park would be created on the slopes between zaikran yaakov and vinamina in order to promote tourism in the area and denotorism in israel in general hot springs hammock gator tiberius hot springs yo of hot springs israeli occupied territories in march 2021. the center for research on multinational corporations published a reported that stated tour operators across europe and north america are deceptively offering unsuspecting consumers misleading package tours to israel and palestine these tours are labeled as destined to israel but actually include locations in the occupied palestinian territory and in the occupied syrian golan many include illegal israeli settlements which are the source of a wide range of serious human rights violations suffered by palestinian communities and the palestinian people as a whole west bank tourism west bank tourism has been controlled by israel since the territory was occupied in 1967.
territory that had been off limits to israeli citizens was now made available for tourism and israel established numerous amenities in these territories in east jerusalem to make it more appealing to israeli and foreign tourists despite that israeli citizens are generally restricted from traveling to parts of the west bank under palestinian authority control today the palestinian authority and israeli tourism ministries worked together on tourism in the palestinian territories in a joint committee on tourism bethlehem burial place of the matriarch rachel and birthplace of king david and of jesus around 1.3 million tourists visited the city in 2008. popular sites in the city and around include the church of the nativity a church built over the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of jesus of nazareth the manger square shepherd's field in bate sahore solomon's pools and the salesian cremason monastery herodium a fortress built by herod the great it is administered by the israel nature and parks authority hebron the second holiest city in judaism and the place where the tomb of the patriarchs and matriarchs is located according to jewish and islamic tradition it was also the capital of the kingdom of judah before david moved it to jerusalem jericho tourism increased by nearly 42.3 percent in the first three
quarters of 2008 as crossing between areas under pa control and israel became less restricted qumran an ancient jewish site where the dead sea scrolls were discovered it is administered by the israel nature and parks authority nablus also known as shechem where joseph's tomb and jacob's well can be found golan heights tourism the golan heights were captured by israel from syria in the 1967 six-day war and are recognized by the international community as syrian territory held by israel under military occupation however in 2019 the united states recognized israeli sovereignty of the area in an act ruled null and void by the united nations security council israel applied civilian law to the territory in 1981. for ease of touring the golan can be divided into the north with most of its popular destinations in the south where the administrative capital is located travel guides recommend renting a car or joining an organized tour although it is slower some travelers chose to hitchhike throughout the region accommodations are typically through bed and breakfasts or cabins called zimmers the first israeli ski resort was established in the golan nature trails and other attractions were established by israel in order to further entrench its presence in the territory and to attract tourists as much of the golan's land is not arable many of the israeli settlements established focused on tourism as a way of generating income the golan has national parks which provide extensive hiking options most of these are maintained by the israel nature and parks authority landmines from previous wars pose a risk when clearly marked and fenced off areas are disregarded the mount hermann ski resort is popular during the winter months this is the first israeli ski resort in the golan the area produces wine and the golan heights winery as a large producer the winery has a visitors center and tours archaeology in katzerin gamla nimrod fortress rujam elhiri ammel canadier seas and lakes mediterranean coastal strips sunny beaches and hotel resorts stead see the lowest point on the earth's surface and the deepest hyper saline lake in the world famous for its buoyancy and medicinal qualities red sea sunny beaches and hotel resorts popular destination for scuba diving and water sports sea of galilee sunny beaches and hotel resorts important christian and jewish holy sites many archaeological sites dive tourism alid is located in the gulf of aqaba one of the most popular diving destinations in the world the coral reefs along aylet's coast remain relatively pristine and the area is recognized as one of the prime diving locations in the world about 250 000 dives are performed annually off aylet's 11 kilometers coastline and diving represents 10 of the tourism income of this area in addition given the proximity of many of these reefs to the shore non-divers can encounter the red sea's reefs with relative ease water conditions for scuba divers are good all year round with water temperatures around 21 to 25 c degree little or no currents in clear waters with an average of 20 to 30 meters visibility medical tourism israel is emerging as a popular destination for medical tourists in 2006 15 000 foreign visitors traveled to the country for medical procedures bringing in 40 million dollars of revenue the advantages of israel for health tourism include good natural resources stable comfortable climate all year round a progressive medical systems and scenic locations which have a calming effect on patients medical tourists choose israel for several reasons some come from european nations such as romania where certain procedures are not available others come to israel most commonly from the united states because they can receive quality health care at a fraction of the cost it would be at home for both surgeries and in vitro fertilization treatments other medical tourists come to israel to visit the dead sea a world-famous therapeutic resort the israel ministry of tourism and several professional medical services providers have set out to generate awareness of israel's medical capabilities tourist demographics and economic contribution according to the israeli ministry of tourism in 2009 54 of the 2.7 million visitors to israel were christian jewish tourists accounted for 39 revenue from tourism in 2009 totaled 3.3 billion dollars in 2010 tourism constituted 6.4 of the country's gdp the world travel and tourism council estimates that real gdp growth for tourism in israel is expected to average 5.0 per annum over the years 2010 to 2020.
the contribution of tourism to gross domestic product is expected by wttc to rise from 6.4 in 2010 to 7.2 by 2020. the contribution of the industry to employment as 223 000 jobs in 2010 7.9 of total employment export earnings from international visitors and tourism goods are expected to generate 6.5 of total exports in 2010. investment in tourism is estimated at 2.3 billion united states dollars or 7.6
of total investment in 2010. the israel travel and tourism economy is ranked number 51 in absolute size worldwide of the 181 countries estimated by the wttc tourism abroad by israelis offsetting the economic contribution by tourists visiting israel as the larger number of israelis touring abroad in 1993 for example tourism brought 750 million dollars into the country but israeli tourists spent 2 billion abroad statistics published a decade later reported some 2 million israelis touring the world international recognition and awards in 2005 ernst young conducted a comprehensive re-crch study on israeli tourism the report entitled a new market strategy for israeli tourism was published in november 2006. the researchers felt that increasing the number of international tourists by 2011 from 1.9 million to 4 to 5 million was a
feasible goal the report stated that israel's most attractive feature for international markets was its religious culture and history and the great diversity it offers within a very small country according to the researchers israel's different cultures and religions its diverse landscapes the contrasts between cities and combination of european north african and middle eastern culture produced a very high density of experience the report recommended that israel adopt appropriate marketing strategies to counter any perceived negative imagery associated with political developments in 2010 israel won the title of most outstanding stand in all categories at the world's largest tourism fair itb held in berlin the israeli stand won the title of best presenter in the near east and middle east for the third time in a row most visited sites free in 2009 the most visited jewish religious site in israel were the western wall and the second most visited jewish religious site in israel was the grave of rabbi shimon bar yochai at mount marin paid the shrine of the bab at the baha'i world center in haifa the most popular paid tourist attraction is the jerusalem biblical zoo