Tourism numbers up 41% with 1.7M arrivals through July

Israel saw record tourism numbers in the first seven months of 2008, with nearly 1.7 million tourists arriving from January to July. That represents a 41% increase compared with the same period last year.

Growth of 22% was reported in July, the most recent month for which numbers were reported, with 260,000 foreign visitor arrivals. The Middle Eastern destination expects a record 3 million tourists to arrive in all of 2008, a 50% increase compared with 2007.

For more info, visit www.goisrael.com.

Holy sites more popular

Israeli destinations are reporting large growth on a municipal level, as well. For example, the Israel Ministry of Tourism reported that visits to archaeological sites in the eastern part of Jerusalem have increased 28% in the first six months of 2008 compared with the same period the year before.

Historical sites around the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Ophel Archaeological Park and the Roman Square in front of Damascus Gate, have seen a steep rise in visits since January.

Zedekiah's Cave, a 5-acre, underground limestone quarry, witnessed an 86% increase from April to June.

For more on Jerusalem tourism, visit www.jerusalem.muni.il.

Tourist info on wheels

The Association for Tourism Tel Aviv-Jaffa unleashed new mobile-information kiosks onto its streets this summer. Trained stewards manning Segway-designed kiosks provide visitors with directions and information about sites and events around the seaside city.

The mobile kiosks, located in the Marina Tel Aviv, Shlomo Lahat Promenade, Old Jaffa, the Neve Tzedek neighborhood and Rothschild Boulevard, operate seven days a week, from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Tel Aviv, founded by Jewish immigrants from Europe in 1909, celebrates its centennial next year. For more information on tourism to Tel Aviv and Jaffa, see www.visit-tlv.com.

Trafalgar to Israel

Trafalgar Tours this year offers a 10-day Best of Israel vacation. Sites visited on this comprehensive tour of the country include the Dead Sea, a kibbutz and Mount Zion.

The tour begins in Tel Aviv, then journeys on to Jerusalem, Masada and farther north to Nazareth, Capernaum and Safed. Before heading back to Tel Aviv, vacationers take in Acre and Haifa. Best of Israel is priced from $1,399 per person, land-only and double occupancy.

This year, Trafalgar reported a 76% increase in travel to Israel compared with 2007.

For more or to book, call (800) 854-0103 or visit www.trafalgar.com.

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