Holy Land draws 3M pilgrims a year

February 7, 2011

Despite the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, more than 77,000 Canadian pilgrims and three million people worldwide visited the Holy Land last year.

That is a single-year record, according to the Israeli government, and reflects the success of recent policies to attract more visitors to the birthplace of Christianity.

Increasing tourism is an investment in improving the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians, said Haim Gutin, Israel’s consul and commissioner for North and South America.

At a Jan. 18 press conference in Toronto, Gutin said pilgrims appear to have a heightened understanding that terrorism is a “global problem,” not just an issue for the Holy Land.

The Israeli tourism ministry is ramping up its marketing campaign to reach out to Christian tourists. For Canadians, numbers have risen steadily, from less than 30,000 in 2002 to about 60,000 in 2007.