February tourist figures rose slightly to 344,000 compared with 342,000 in February 2019, and up 18% from 2018, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics reports. January tourist figures were 8.5% higher than 2019 with 309,000 tourists coming to Israel compared with 285,000 tourists in January 2019.
A record 4.5 million tourists visited Israel in 2019, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, compared with 4.1 million in 2018, 3.6 million in 2017, and 2.89 million in 2016.
However, it is rapidly becoming clear that there will be no new records in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread worldwide. The Covid-19 virus began spreading outside China in the second half of last month so that February's figures are relatively unaffected but the Ministry of Tourism expects the effect of the outbreak to be felt from this month onwards.
Reflecting on the February figures, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, "Alongside this achievement, it must be stressed that the ongoing spread of the coronavirus is expected to bring a decline in the number of tourists that will already be felt over the coming month.'
Ministry of Tourism director general Amir Halevi added, "The coronavirus crisis may hit the entire tourism sector in Israel as well as many other countries. This is a worldwide event and it is not yet clear how and when it will end but the Ministry of Tourism is ready for 'the day after' the coronavirus to restore tourism to its successful days and breaking records."
Overall in February 2020, 1.38 million passengers passed through Ben Gurion airport (incoming and outgoing tourists) up 25 from February 2018.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 4, 2020
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