Israel had its best tourism year to date, with more than 4.12 million tourist entries recorded from January to December 2018, an increase of about 14% compared to 2017, and 42% more than in 2016. As tourism to Israel continues to increase at record-breaking rates, 2019 is anticipated to show even faster growth thanks to new flight options, hotel renovations and openings, global events and more.
• Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, Tel Aviv – Nobu Hospitality will be opening a new property and restaurant in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Nobu Hotel Tel Aviv is the 17th hotel in the brand’s expanding portfolio. With a vision crafted by Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman, the Nobu Hotel Tel Aviv will attract tastemakers and style setters wrapping the concept of a luxurious hotel around energized public spaces.
• Mizpe Hayamim Renovation – Mizpe Hayamim, the beloved Galilee hotel located just minutes from Safed and Rosh Pina, is slated to reopen in May 2019, just in time to welcome guest back for the sunny summer months. The hotel has been closed since April 2018 for renovations, including the addition of 17 guest rooms.
• Six Senses Shaharut – The long awaited Six Senses Shaharut is slated to open in 2019 in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert. The luxurious and sustainable property will be one of the biggest openings of the year.
• The Dead Sea Valley Tourism Complex – On the shore of one of nature’s wonders, opposite captivating desert and sea views that attract hundreds of thousands of travelers and medical tourists, the Israel Ministry of Tourism is setting up the exclusive Dead Sea Valley Tourism Complex immersed in nature and offering a once in a lifetime opportunity for travelers. The project includes the construction of a tourist complex with world-class luxury hotels and up to 5,000 rooms. The development is slated for completion towards the end of 2019.
• Jerusalem High Speed Train – Opened in September 2018, Israel’s much-anticipated high-speed train has begun operating and currently reaches Ben Gurion Airport. In early 2019, the express train will connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. As the first electric railway line in Israel, the new train will take just 28 minutes, down from the current bus transportation of about 80 minutes. Visitors and locals alike will enjoy the perks of the new rail line, making it easier – and faster – to get from one of Israel’s top cities to the other.
• Ben Gurion Airport Renovation – Ben Gurion Airport is set to undergo a major overhaul in 2019 that will see it become a more user-friendly airport and will cut down on long waiting lines during check-in. The changes will include six new baggage and security check booths in Terminal Three, a doubling of the capacity and use of Terminal One for short distance flights, common check-in stations that will allow passengers to check in to different airlines at the same station and added self-check-in booths. Additionally, the V.I.P. Lounges are also expected to be redone to raise the comfort level of the passengers. Ben Gurion Airport is expecting to see 25 million travelers pass through its halls in 2019, thus qualifying it in the “Large Airport” category.
• Ramon Airport – Known as a popular resort town for European travelers, Eilat is becoming a more accessible destination thanks to the new Ramon Airport, slated to open in 2019. This airport will replace the two existing nearby hubs, Eilat City Airport and Ovda Airport, creating an impressive new international gateway to Southern Israel and the Red Sea.
• New United, Delta and El Al Flights – On May 22, 2019, United Airlines will operate its first nonstop flight between Washington Dulles International Airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. United’s new route to Tel Aviv will be the carrier’s fourth flight to Israel and strengthens the 20 years of relationship between the airline and the destination. In addition, last month, Delta announced it will be launching a second daily flight between New York and Tel Aviv for the summer of 2019. The new daily flight will operate in the afternoon departing at 3:35 pm, complementing the late-night flight already in operation from JFK. El Al is the most recent airline to announce a new route, with plans for a new weekly nonstop flight from Las Vegas to Tel Aviv starting June 14, 2019. This will be the first direct flight from Las Vegas to Israel. El Al will also launch its direct flights from Tel Aviv to San Francisco starting May 13, 2019.
• Dizengoff Square Renovation – For 40 years Dizengoff Square, in the heart of the White City district, has been elevated above the street – preferring traffic over people. This year the square has undergone a major construction project lowering it to street level and making the whole area more pedestrian friendly. The renovation will be finished in 2019.
• Eurovision 2019 – From May 14-16, 2019, Israel will be hosting for the first time in 20 years, the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest, following its selection as the host city by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) after an extensive inspection and evaluation of the city’s amenities and facilities. About 1,500 journalists and tens of thousands of tourists are expected to flock to Tel Aviv to share in the city-wide celebrations. The three main events – two semifinals and the final event broadcast live to millions of viewers around the world – will take place at Pavilions 1 and 2 at EXPO Tel Aviv International Convention Center.
Israel won the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time in two decades on May 12 this year when Netta Barzilai snagged first place with her anthem “Toy.” Over the last few years, the City of Tel Aviv has invested vast resources in developing its facilities and infrastructure in order to become a prime destination for major international conferences and events. This year, the destination was one of the proud host cities of the 2018 Giro d’Italia Big Start—the only location outside of Italy—as well as the 2018 European Judo Championships.