Israel sees 74.9% decline in tourist arrivals in six months of 2024: Report

The number of foreign tourists visiting Israel dropped by 74.9 percent in the first half of 2024 compared to the same period last year, according to the figures issued by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics.

In January-June, the number of tourist arrivals in Israel amounted to 495,300, seeing a sharp decline from the record of about 1.97 million in the first six months of 2023.

According to the data, since the outbreak of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip in early October last year, the monthly number of tourist arrivals in Israel has been below 100,000, except for May.

Israel’s economy has faced one of the biggest contractions in the its history in the fourth quarter of last year due to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip, a report from the Central Bureau of Statistics revealed in late February.

Israel’s GDP slumped by a seasonally adjusted 19.4% in the final three months of 2023, which was the first quarterly drop in Israel’s economy in two years.

The contraction was significantly worse than both the Bloomberg and Reuters consensus forecast of a 10% decline. The hostilities paralyzed businesses, prompted evacuations and a record call-up of reservists, which removed roughly 8% of Israel’s workforce, according to economists.

The war caused a severe disruption to Israel’s $520 billion economy, leading to “restrictions comparable to shutdowns imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, causing a sudden crash in manufacturing, jolting consumption and briefly emptying schools, offices and construction sites”, Bloomberg wrote.

Investment in Israel took the biggest blow, plunging by 70%, while private consumption, a major driver of economic growth, dropped by 27% in the fourth quarter. Public consumption plummeted by almost 90%, data showed.

Meanwhile, government spending skyrocketed by 88.1%, according to the statistics. Increased military spending played a large role in the surge.

For the full year, Israel’s GDP expanded by 2%, down from 6.5% growth in 2022. The Bank of Israel maintained its growth estimate for 2024 at 2%, while the Finance Ministry sees it at 1.6%.

The international ratings agency Moody’s has lowered Israel’s credit rating, which was Israel’s first-ever sovereign downgrade. Israel’s rating was lowered from A1 to A2 and its outlook kept at ‘negative’ due to what the ratings agency believes are the political and fiscal risks stemming from Israel’s continuing war against the Gaza Strip.

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