ore tourists than ever visited Israel in 2017, with an estimated 3.6 million tourists visiting the country’s sandy beaches and holy sites.

Visiting tourists spent an estimated NIS 20 billion inside the country, according to a statement from the Tourism Ministry, and some 200,000 Israelis work in the industry.

The government was quick to take credit for the uptick in visitors, with 700,000 more than the previous year, or an increase of 25%.

“The all-time record number of tourists visiting Israel this year is no accident,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said. “The actions taken by my ministry since I took up my position have brought Israel an unprecedented record in incoming tourism.”

The top five countries of origin for tourists to Israel were the US, Russia, France, Germany and the UK. 54% of incoming tourists were Christian (a plurality of whom were Catholic, and 25% visiting as pilgrims). Only about a fifth of all tourists were Jewish, with the remainder comprising other faiths or being non-affiliated. Some 41% of 2017 tourists had already visited Israel.

The average tourist spends some...read more at JPost