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June 2011

June 20, 2011

Israel’s top ten tourist destinations

National parks and animals are the hottest Israeli spots for visitors, according to a list released by Dun & Bradstreet

Business information gurus Dun & Bradstreet recently released a Top 10 list of the most visited pay-to-enter tourist sites in

Capturing first place on the list is the ancient Masada fortress, site of the first-century great revolt of the Jews against the Romans, and today a symbol of heroism.

The remaining spots were taken by:

- Jerusalem’s Tisch Family Zoological Gardens

- Caesarea National Park on the Mediterranean coast

- The Banias Nature Reserve all the way up north

- Ramat Gan’s Safari Park

- Ein Gedi Nature Reserve

- Hamat Gader hot springs on the Golan Heights

- Eilat’s Underwater Observatory Marine Park

- The caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947

- The Yamit 2000 Water Park just outside of Tel Aviv.

(Courtesy of MFA Newsletter)


June 14, 2011

MAY – 268,000,



Success for the Tourism Ministry’s marketing efforts – the increased and targeted activities, together with an increased budget, succeeded in generating high demand and 308,000 visitors arrived in Israel during May 2011 (similar to May 2010), despite the geo-political situation in the region. About 1,350,000 visitors arrived in
Israel in the period January-May 2011 (2% less than the same period last year).

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 268,000 of all the entries for May 2011 were tourists (staying more than one night), 5% more than May 2010 and a record figure for the month of May. 40,000 were one-day visitors (23% less than last year), of whom 16,000 arrived on cruise ships (double the number for May 2010). Of the 1.348 million visitors who arrived during the period January – May 2011, 1,168,000 were tourists (4% more than the same period last year). 180,000 were one-day visitors, 28% less than 2010.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who is in Milan as part of the Prime Minister’s delegation, yesterday (12.6.11) launched Israel Week which will place emphasis on promoting tourism to Israel. Today, the minister is expected to meet with his Italian counterpart Michela Vittoria Brambillato discuss ways of promoting bilateral tourism.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: “The success of the Tourism Ministry in stabilizing incoming tourism to
Israel, given the geopolitical situation in the region that is affecting the image of the region and Israel within it, is both impressive and important. We will continue in these efforts in the coming months. This is the time to exploit opportunities, to be flexible and respond swiftly and, at the same time, to maintain ongoing market analysis. We will work to maximize the marketing investment and to significantly shorten the period of recovery.”

The ministry will invest about
NIS 60 million in the summer campaign around the world to promote tourism to Israel. In addition, the ministry will promote unique and targeted projects such as the candidacy of the Dead Sea in the finals of the New7Wonders of Nature, the positioning of Eilat as a long-term project etc.

Since the beginning of the year, there has been a 40% increase in incoming tourism from
Ukraine (attributable in part to the recent visa abolition). In addition, tourism from Denmark has increased 59% with the introduction of direct flights at the end of 2010 and a 9% increase from France, as well as other countries such as UK, Scandinavia and Germany.

(Courtesy of Israel Ministry of Tourism)


June 12, 2011


A 1,500 Year Old Public Building Dating to the Byzantine Period was Revealed in Excavations Conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Akko

Nurit Feig, the excavation director, “It may possibly be a church. This is the first time that remains of a public building from this period have been uncovered in

For the first time in the history of the study of
Akko, a public building from the Byzantine period has been exposed in the city. In an archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted approximately 100 meters west of Tel Akko – next to the Azrieli Shopping Mall compound under construction there – a 1,500 year old public building was discovered that may have been used as a church. The salvage excavation was carried out there as a result of work that had not been coordinated with the IAA and which caused damage to ancient remains located in a declared antiquities site.

According to Nurit Feig, director of the excavation on behalf of the
Israel Antiquities Authority, "Until now, the city was known from Christian sources which mention its bishop who took part in formulating the new religion. Now, the first tangible evidence is emerging in the field. This is an important discovery for the study of Akko because until now no remains dating to the Byzantine period have been found, save those of a residential quarter situated near the sea”. A large ashlar-built public edifice was uncovered in the IAA excavation. The size of the building, the impressive construction, as well as the finds – an abundance of roof tiles, parts of marble ornamentations, the pottery and coins – all point to a public structure (possibly a church) that served the Bishop of Akko’s city in the Byzantine period. Terra cotta pipes survived below the wall levels and mosaic pavements adorned the floor in one of its rooms. The building’s inhabitants had a readily available supply of water from a well that was situated in one of the courtyards of the building.

The early Christian sources mention the bishops of
Akko and Caesarea who participated in major international conferences and meetings that dealt with formulating religious doctrine, thus attesting to the centrality of Akko for the Christian religion in this period. In addition, we also have evidence of an anonymous pilgrim from the city of Piacenza in Italy, regarding the richness and splendor of the city in the year 570 CE, in which he mentions the beautiful churches within its precincts.

The paucity of Byzantine remains that have been found so far can be attributed to the destruction caused by those who came thereafter. In addition, earlier structures that date to the Hellenistic period were exposed beneath the foundations of the Byzantine public building. Their contents were rich and diverse and included imported pottery vessels from the Mediterranean basin, among them amphorae from the Isle of
Rhodes, as indicated by the handles that bear the governors’ names.

(Courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority)


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