Israel's Tourism Ministry released a report for 2010 showing that 3.5 million tourists visited the country this year. And the number is expected to increase in 2011. Of those who visited Israel this past year, 69% identified themselves as Christians and 23% as Jews.
Tourism Minister Stas Miseznikov noted the importance of the increased numbers. "The year 2010 is a milestone for the Israeli tourism industry, a year in which both the government and the economy in general understood that tourism is an economic force of the first degree."
One benefit of the current lull in hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians is that tourism also increased for Palestinian-controlled areas like Bethlehem. About 1.5 million tourists visited Bethlehem this year, and during Christmas celebrations 90,000 tourists flooded into the town, almost tripling its normal population of 50,000.
It's nice to report on good news coming out of the Holy Land!