2018 was Israel’s best tourism year to date, with the country welcoming over 4.12 million tourist entries from January to December. That’s an increase of about 14% compared to 2017, and 42% more than in 2016.
Not surprisingly as tourism to Israel continues to increase at record-breaking rates, tourism officials are anticipating that 2019 will show even faster growth thanks to new flight options, hotel renovations and openings, global events and more.
In hotel news, Nobu Hospitality will open a new property and restaurant in Tel Aviv – the Nobu Hotel Tel Aviv; Mizpe Hayamim, the popular Galilee hotel – which has been closed for renovations since April 2018 – is slated to reopen in May 2019; the long-awaited Six Senses Shaharut is scheduled to open in 2019 in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert; and the Israel Ministry of Tourism is setting up the exclusive Dead Sea Valley Tourism Complex which will include luxury hotels and up to 5,000 rooms, a state-of-the-art spa and health facilities, leisure facilities, a visitor and information centre, a multi-purpose conference centre, a commercial and entertainment centre, as well as a modish promenade, connecting the hotels and the various attractions/facilities. The development is slated for completion towards the end of 2019.
On the transportation scene, the Jerusalem High-Speed Train opened in September 2018, and its high-speed train service currently reaches Ben Gurion Airport. In early 2019, the express train will connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Ben Gurion Airport is set to undergo a major overhaul in 2019 that will see it become a more user-friendly airport and will cut down on long waiting lines during check-in. The changes will include six new baggage and security check booths in Terminal Three, a doubling of the capacity and use of Terminal One for short distance flights, common check-in stations that will allow passengers to check in to different airlines at the same station and added self-check-in booths. Additionally, the V.I.P. Lounges are also expected to be redone to raise the comfort level of the passengers. Ben Gurion Airport is expecting to see 25 million travellers pass through its halls in 2019, thus qualifying it in the “Large Airport” category.
Known as a popular resort town for European travellers, Eilat is becoming a more accessible destination thanks to the new Ramon Airport, slated to open in 2019. This airport will replace the two existing nearby hubs, Eilat City Airport and Ovda Airport, creating an impressive new international gateway to Southern Israel and the Red Sea.
As for flights, On May 22, United Airlines will operate its first nonstop flight between Washington Dulles International Airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. More recently, Delta announced it will be launching a second daily flight between New York and Tel Aviv for the summer of 2019.
And El Al is the most recent airline to announce a new route, with plans for a new weekly nonstop flight from Las Vegas to Tel Aviv starting June 14. It will be the first direct flight from Las Vegas to Israel. El Al will also launch its direct flights from Tel Aviv to San Francisco starting May 13.
For more on Israel, go to www.israel.travel.