Tourism in Israel grew in 2023, but slumped after start of war

January 5, 2024 - 1:21 PM
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Birds fly in the Al-Aqsa compound, also known to Jews as the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City, January 3, 2024. (Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne)

 The number of tourists visiting Israel rose in 2023 compared with 2022, although it plunged in October after war broke out between Israel and Hamas and remained low for the rest of the year, the Israeli tourism ministry said on Thursday.

Up until October, the tourism industry was recovering from the collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on southern Israel the number of foreign visitors dropped suddenly.

Overall in 2023, 3 million tourists entered Israel, up from 2.7 million in 2022. December was the worst month of the year with just 52,800 tourists, while the number was above 300,000 per month for several months earlier in the year.

Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7 and took 240 hostage, according to Israeli authorities. Israel responded with a bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 22,000 people, according to health officials there.

— Reporting by Emily Rose; Editing by Bill Berkrot