After several years of record-breaking seasons, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has brought Israel’s tourism industry to a screeching halt, with a cumulative loss of revenue to the economy since the beginning of the year of approximately NIS 12.1 billion (approx. $3.6 b.).
In September, the number of tourists entering Israel continued to fall with only 15,100 tourist entries, a decrease of 96% from September 2019.
During the period January-September 2020, 783,000 tourist entries were recorded, 76% down from the 3.295 million tourists in the same period last year.
In September 2018 – September 2019, the number of tourists who visited Israel reached 4.6 million, breaking Israel’s all-time record, an 18% increase over the previous year’s 3.9 million tourists.
Israeli Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hacohen stated Thursday that “tourism is an important economic industry, of the utmost significance for the Israeli economy and one of the main victims of the corona crisis.”
“Tourism is not just nice to have, not at all. Opening the industry would be part of the solution to the unemployment problem, the emotional stress, the economy and the crisis,” she said.
Farkash-Hacohen, who entered office this week, said one of her first steps is to reach an agreement with the Health Minister on presenting an exit strategy outline for the industry.
The outline calls for Green Islands that will facilitate isolating tourist cities at both their entrance and exit and create an area that allows for a healthy and economic vacation.