Tourism is not one of the main pillars upon which Israel’s economy rests, but a notable part of it nonetheless. It is a country with multiple religious, natural and cultural attractions concentrated in a relatively small area with high levels of infrastructure, all of which make it a popular destination. What makes it so difficult is the permanent instability in the region, with imminent violent conflict always a possibility. Another barrier, although dwarfed in comparison to the conflict, is the language barrier. Hebrew is not widely spoken outside of Israel, and if so only in diasporic areas. The other official languages – Russian and Arabic – are also not spoken by the majority of tourists. Nonetheless, Israel remains a popular holiday for many, with the most frequent visitors being Americans and Europeans.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tourism is directly responsible for about 3% of Israel’s Gross Domestic Product. Although this is not insignificant, Israel hope to exploit the true potential of the industry, making tourism a major part of their economic growth plan.

Israel has high potential for tourism, but faces numerous barriers such as conflict, security factors, and language. There is potential for further development, but it is currently not a driver of economic development.

A photo I took outside the old city of Jerusalem, in 2013

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