Tourism to Jewish State Reaches Record High

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More than half of the record 3.54 million tourists that visited Israel in 2013 were Christian.

JERUSALEM — Israel reported a record 3.54 million visitors in 2013, half a percent more than the previous record year. Meanwhile, some 272,000 tourists arrived in December, a 14 percent increase over December 2012, setting a record for most arrivals in the Jewish state in one month.

The figures were released Jan. 9 by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.

Nearly 18 percent of the tourists, numbering 623,000 people, arrived from the United States. Russia sent 603,000 tourists, and France 315,000.

More than half the tourists, or 53 percent, were Christian; only 28 percent were Jewish.

Overall, tourism contributed about $11.4 billion to the Israeli economy in 2013, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

“The year 2013 is a record year for tourism, and we are proud of that," said Tourism Minister Uzi Landau. "Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the security situation in the region, tourists voted with their feet."