JERUSALEM, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- The number of incoming tourists in Israel is expected to hit a record 3.6 million in 2017, an increase of 25 percent year on year, the Israeli Tourism Ministry said on Tuesday.
The revenues from the tourism sector could reach about NIS (Israeli New Shekel) 20 billion (5.6 billion U.S. dollars), and lots of jobs were generated, according to the ministry.
During Jan.-Nov. 2017, about 3.3 million tourist entries were recorded, an increase of 25.3 percent year on year, the ministry said.
Among the 3.3 million, over 2.9 million tourist entries were by air, an increase of 22 percent from 2016. Some 373,000 tourists arrived via the land crossings, which is a 50-percent increase year on year.
The United States continued to represent the largest country of origin for the incoming tourism, with 716,000 tourists arriving during Jan.-Nov. 2017, a 21-percent increase from 2016. Russia and France rank the second and third.
The ministry said the number of tourists from China in Jan.-Nov. 2017, excluding same-day visitors and cruise ships, reached 105,000, an increase of 46 percent from the same period of 2016.
Israel pays high attention to tapping into the tourism market in China. It launched the first social network campaign on China's search engine Baidu and social media platform WeChat in 2017.
Meanwhile, the ministry held a first-of-its-kind course for 40 tour guides from China. The course is designed to deal with the growing shortage of Chinese-speaking tour guides in Israel.
The ministry said that the average tourist expenditure in the first half of 2017 was 1,600 dollars, with the average daily expenditure reaching 162 dollars.
Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the all-time record number of inbound tourists in 2017 is the result of a series of policies.
He also mentioned several significant initiatives implemented to boost the country's tourism, including "building sub-brands and launching new campaigns, collaborations with large online travel agents, giving financial incentives to airline companies that open new routes to Israel and continued marketing throughout the world."
The tourism minister also expects satisfactory results of incoming visits in 2018.