The Uniqueness of Israel
Immigration and Tourism
2010s Saw Massive Immigration to Israel
According to figures released by the Jewish Agency, more than 255,000 people made Aliyah last decade, with a record breaking 34,000 immigrants in 2019 alone. People came from around 150 countries in order to start their new lives in the Holy Land.
Most immigrants came from Russia, Ukraine, France, the US and Ethiopia, but there were people arriving from right across the planet. The largest immigration occurred in 2019, with an 18% increase over 2018.
Looking deeper into the figures reveals that more than half of the new olim (roughly 130,000 people) came from the former Soviet Union. Over 55,000 people came from Europe, with more than 38,000 of them arriving from France. There were around 32,000 olim from the United States, 13,500 from Latin America (with most coming from Brazil and Argentina), close to 10,500 Ethiopians, 3800 Canadians, 2,500 South Africans and 1,950 from Oceania, most of which came from Australia.
However, there were also immigrants from further afield. Around 1,700 people arrived from Africa and Asia, with around 1,180 from India and almost 200 from Hong Kong and China. There were also over 3000 olim from other Middle Eastern countries and countries with which Israel does not have any diplomatic ties.
Furthermore, those arriving to Israel tend to be young. The Jewish Agency reports that around 60% of immigrants over the last decade were under the age of 45. This suggests that they have come with young families who will soon be integrated into Israeli society.
Tourism Continues to Increase
Not only are more people coming to live in Israel, but also recent years have seen a huge increase in tourism. More than 4.5 million tourists came to visit Israel in 2019, breaking the record for the third year in a row.
Most of the tourists came from the US, but there were also significant numbers from France, Russia, Germany, Britain, Italy, Poland, China, the Ukraine and Romania. One of the reasons for the increase is the Open Skies Agreement that came into effect in 2013, making air travel from Europe much cheaper.
According to Amir Halevi, the director general of the Ministry of Tourism, the increase is down to “a professional and marketing revolution that we have led in recent years. The ‘Two Sunny Cities. One Break’ campaign has been very successful in promoting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as city destinations and now we are turning our attention to developing additional tourism products, mainly the Negev and Arava.”
Statistics from the Ministry of Tourism show that there was an increase of about 500,000 in the number of tourist overnights in Israeli hotels from 2018 to 2019, while Israeli overnight stays in hotels stayed about the same.
Air traffic to and from Israel has also significantly increased over the last ten years. Flights to and from Israel have more than doubled and Israelis made around 4 million trips abroad last year. It is predicted that Ben Gurion Airport will handle around 25 million departures and arrivals this year.
In other words, while Israel may continue to receive plenty of negative international press, on the ground more and more people are building their lives there while tourists continue to flock to the country to enjoy all that it has to offer.