The Israel Government Tourist Office in the UK has announced a record number of British arrivals last year Jewish Weekly Travel Editor Malcolm Ginsberg reports.  Numbers rose to 235,000 representing an increase of 8% from 2018 and 19% from 2017.

Israel welcomed a record-breaking 4,551,600 international tourists to the country throughout 2019, an increase of 11% from 2018 and 26% from 2017.

Sharon E. Bershadsky, Director, Israel Government Tourist Office UK: “We’re thrilled to end 2019 with a new record for inbound tourists to Israel from the UK. Our ‘Two Cities, One Break’ campaign continues to inspire UK travellers to get a taste of the buzzing, metropolitan, seaside delights of Tel Aviv, and explore the innumerable historic sites and archaeological wonders of Jerusalem. In 2020, we look forward to showcasing more of Israel’s natural wonders such as the Dead Sea, Masada, Eilat & the Negev Desert, alongside the country’s vibrant culinary offering, unique culture and arts scene, vibrant nightlife, outdoor adventure and wonderous ancient sites.”

New Virgin Atlantic flights from Heathrow and El Al from Manchester helped to boost the numbers.

Tourism Ministry Director, General Amir Halevi was slightly more cautious with a comment clearly aimed at his political masters: “In 2019, we have broken the record for incoming tourism. We are within reach of achieving 5 million tourists, but we are concerned that the momentum we have achieved in focused marketing that has proven itself will not continue with the same intensity because of significant budget cuts. However, the Ministry of Tourism will continue to work with the aim of developing tourism brands that will attract additional target audiences to Israel, spearheaded by the Negev and the desert and, in the future, the Galilee.”