According to the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel, from January to June 2018 about 2.1 million tourist entries were recorded - an increase of 19 percent over the same period in 2017 (1.74 million) and 26 percent more than in 2016.
The United States remains the largest source country for incoming tourists, with 470,200 tourist entries in 2018, 17% more than 2017. More Canadians than ever are also traveling to Israel with a 14% visitor increase in 2018 compared to 2017.
The signicant increase in tourism is a result of the Ministry of Tourism’s intensive marketing efforts and activities around the world. See below for some exciting new hotel openings, festivals, and museum exhibits that’s drawing tourists to Israel.
- The Drisco – After a $35 million investment and more than a decade of intensive work led by architect and interior designer Mr. Ari Shaltiel, The Drisco hotel officially opened for reservations in June. The 42-room hotel presents a unique mixture of old world elegance and new world comforts in a prime Tel Aviv location. The property is steps away from the beaches, Rothschild Blvd, the charming neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, Jaffa's flea market and Old Jaffa. The luxury boutique property perfectly captures the essence of the hip, urban Israeli city and offers savvy travelers an upscale hospitality experience enhanced by the storied past of the building.
- The Dave South – Brown Hotels is opening The Dave South in September 2018 in the Nahalat Binyamin area in the heart of Tel Aviv. The property joins The Dave West, the inaugural property that opened earlier this year in Brown Hotels’ new brand of low cost, youthful boutique hotels in Tel Aviv, designed for fun loving urbanites eager to explore Tel Avivian life. This summer at The Dave West, guests can arrange for various experiences at the hotel’s limited-time pop up, including haircuts and tattoos. Haircuts are offered by Barbaria, a well-known Tel Avivian male grooming establishment and the extra-adventurous can get a unique tattoo created by Sara Kori, a rising star in the local tattoo scene. Both services are available for hotel and outside guests. Travelers should plan a visit over a Tuesday or Friday to visit the Nahalat Binyamin Market, which features a variety of arts and crafts presented by over 200 local artists.
- The Lighthouse Hotel – The Lighthouse Hotel, another new property by Brown Hotels, is opening in July 2018. Just a block away from the Tel Aviv beaches, the new Lighthouse Hotel will feature 103 rooms with stunning sea and city views, wellness center, a private and corporate event complex, rooftop garden and a fashionable Rooftop Bar with unparalleled 360° views of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean. Two outdoor swimming pools will be added by the summer of 2020.
- The Link Hotel & Hub – Dan Hotels announced the opening of a new business property in the center of Tel Aviv called the Link Hotel & Hub. At an investment of more than $11 million, this new hotel is aimed at the new generation of business travelers and tourists, offering a concept of "connecting" contemporary design, Tel Aviv’s vibrant social scene, street art and advanced technology. To help arriving guests get quickly to their rooms with a minimum of fuss, The LINK has eliminated many procedures typical of traditional hotels: no cash transactions, no reception desk, no bellboys and no concierge. The helpful multi-tasking 24/7 Service Crew operates on an “everyone does everything” basis. Located on Shaul Ha’melech Boulevard, the accommodations are close to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Opera House, Cameri Theatre, Rabin Square and the popular Sarona Market.
- The Setai, Sea of Galilee Expansion – The Setai-Sea of Galilee, one of two properties within The Setai Hotels brand portfolio in Israel, will add 47 new standalone "Kinneret Villas," each featuring a private garden and an infinity pool, in August 2018. Having officially opened in June 2017 with 110 luxurious villas and suites, The Setai Sea of Galilee is a pastoral spa resort situated on the eastern shore of the historic Sea of Galilee (or Kinneret) that overlooks the verdant vistas of Northern Israel. The hotel has set a new standard for luxury hospitality in Northern Israel and is a much-welcomed addition to the region's rapidly expanding hospitality offerings.
- Israel Museum Fashion Exhibit – This summer, Jerusalem’s Israel Museum opened Fashion Statements, the first exhibition to examine the broad spectrum of Israeli fashion design, a pioneering presentation on the origins of Israel’s globally-trendsetting fashion design. Fashion Statements is a central part of the Museum’s 2018 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. The exhibition will be open for visiting fashionistas through April 2019.
- World Lacrosse Championship – An estimated 7,000 tourists are expected to visit Israel from July 12-21 to watch or participate in the World Lacrosse Championship, taking place in the coastal city of Netanya. This will be the largest ever championship and the first one to be held in Israel. Israel’s opportunity to host the World Lacrosse Championship is thanks in part to the country’s recent success in the international lacrosse arena, in which Israel won second place in the 2016 European championship and seventh place in the most recent World Championship in 2014. Netanya was chosen to host the event due to the city’s achievements in sports and its success in hosting a variety of international competitions, including the European swimming championships, world surfing championships, international tennis tournaments and European football (soccer) championships.
- Jerusalem Beer Festival – More than 120 different beers from Israeli and international breweries will be represented at this year’s Jerusalem Beer Festival, taking place from August 29-30. The festival is celebrating its 14th year, with over 20,000 visitors expected to attend to taste the beers from big well-known brands to local boutique breweries. This event has become an annual party, putting Jerusalem on the map with dozens of other top beer locales around the world. The beers at this year's festival will come from countries including Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Germany, Japan, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Thailand and more.
Also, the Israel Ministry of Tourism redesigned and launched a mobile app to help international tourists get the most out of their vacation to Israel from the early planning stages to their time exploring on the ground. The app is tailored to travelers specific needs and areas of interest and users can search via specific cities and regions, restaurants and hotels, or by searching different categories near their vicinity on a map. The application has several other features that come in handy for visitors, including a currency conversion calculator. Android users can download from Google Play, and iOS users can download via the App Store.