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Tourism Minister Stas Miszhnikov: “It would appear that the effects of Operation Pillar of Defense and the worsening geopolitical situation in the region are reverberating on incoming tourism. As a result, the ministry has begun the year 2013 with intensive marketing activities to realize Israel’s tourism potential by accelerating the implementation of the recommendations from the Committee to Reduce Vacation Costs, the grading of hotels and by emphasizing an improvement in professional training within the industry.”

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics data published today, there were 217,000  visitor entries in January 2013, 6% less than January 2012 (231,000), 13% less than January 2011but 2% higher than January 2010. Of these, tourists (not including day visitors) accounted for 168,000 entries, 11% less than in January 2012 and 2011 but 2% more than January 2010.

 Despite the overall downward trend in the numbers, there was an increase in day visitors, with 49,000 entries in January, 18% more than January 2012. Of these day visitors, 22,000 arrived on cruise ships, 58% more than in January 2012. About 25,000 came through the land borders, 3% less than January 2012 and about 2,600 arrived by air, an increase of 13% compared to January 2012.

 Given Operation Pillar of Defense which took place in November 2012, the events that are taking place in Syria and Egypt and the unstable geopolitical situation in the region, the Tourism Ministry is working to strengthen Israel’s image as a safe, accessible and attractive tourism destination. Tomorrow (12 February) the ministry’s Marketing Administration will present the results of the ministry’s market research study in Britain, Brazil and three locations in the USA (New York, South Florida and Los Angeles) at a seminar to an invited audience of tourism industry professionals. The market surveys were commissioned in order to concentrate the ministry’s marketing efforts in accordance with the needs of the different markets and in order to maximize the effectiveness of marketing spend.