(Communicated by the Tourism Ministry Spokesman)

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and Tourism Ministry report that arrivals of French tourists during the first nine months of 2004 have jumped 74 per cent (a total of 198,100) compared to the same period in 2003. In comparison to 2002, this marks a 126 per cent increase and a 90 per cent rise compared to the same period in 2001. This is an all-time high, exceeding the previous record set in 2000 by 12 per cent.

The number of American tourists to Israel during the same period, according to the report, leaped 52 per cent over 2003 levels to 286,207. European tourism also grew: 40,185 visitors arrived from Russia (a 39 per cent increase), 107,675 from Britain (up 57 per cent), 30,649 from Italy (up 76 per cent) and 55,027 from Germany (up 64 per cent)..

September 2004 alone saw 12,430 French tourists come to Israel, a 34 per cent increase over September 2003. 13,310 British (up 52 per cent) and 31,236 Americans (up 49 per cent) arrived the same month.

Tourism Minister Gideon Ezra says the continued rise in tourism points to the industry’s great potential. Israel, he says, will continue its efforts overseas to promote itself as a tourist destination.