Holy Land tourism, including religious tourism, has hit “unexpected levels” this year. The flow of pilgrims “has topped forecasts”, especially the many visitors “from Asia – in particular, China, South Korea, India – many of whom are Christians,” said Sobhy Makhoul, of the Maronite Church of Jerusalem and administrator of the Christian Media Center.
Some 3.8 million tourists visited Israel in the first 11 months of this year, 14 per cent more than in the corresponding period last year. The goal is to exceed four million. “In October alone, there were 483,000 tourists, 40 per cent over the same month in 2017,” Sobhy Makhoul said.
Bethlehem is one of the places that is benefitting from the tourist boom with hotel occupancy expected to exceed 95 per cent by the end of December. Bethlehem businesses also said they were benefiting from a surge of visitors to Israel for its 70th anniversary year.