Some 3.6 million tourists visisted Israel in 2017, an all-time record and a 25% increase over the previous year. Of those, 59% visited for the first time with Jerusalem being the top destination as 78% visited Israel’s capital.

The largest number of tourists came from the United States, with 700,000 making the journey. There were 307,000 visitors from Russia, 284,000 from France, 202,000 from Germany and 185,000 from the United Kingdom.

An exciting find from these statistics is that 59 percent of those tourists were visiting the Jewish state for the first time.

Twenty-five percent said the purpose of their visit was religious or a pilgrimage, twenty-four percent said they were visiting relatives or friends and twenty-three percent said there to tour the land and taking parts in hiking, and just six percent came with an organised tour package.

Jerusalem was a destination for 78 percent of tourists in 2017, followed by Tel Aviv-Jaffa at 67 percent, the Dead Sea at 49 percent and Tiberias and the Galilee region at 35 percent.

All these figures mean that tourism contributed some £4.2 billion ($5.8 billion) to Israel’s economy.