Tourism to Israel jumps 25 pct in 2017 to record 3.6 mln visitors

JERUSALEM, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Tourism to Israel grew 25 percent in 2017 to a record 3.6 million people, bringing in 20 billion shekels ($5.8 billion) of revenue, the Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry said the increase of 700,000 tourists last year was buoyed by 18 new routes flying into Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport as well as more flights to the Red Sea resort of Eilat, some of which were subsidised by the ministry.

A new route on Hainan Airlines boosted tourism from China by 46 percent. Ryanair, Lot, WizzAir and WOW also added routes.

The United States, Russia, France, Germany and Great Britain were the top sources of incoming tourism last year. Jerusalem was the top destination for tourists, followed by Tel Aviv.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the ministry has implemented a number of initiatives such as giving financial incentives to airlines to open new routes, collaborating with large online travel agents and working with entrepreneurs to build more hotels.

“If we continue in this way, we will see very satisfactory results in the next year,” he said.

$1 = 3.4633 shekels Reporting by Steven Scheer