Evangelicals 1/3 of U.S. Tourists to Israel

Evangelical Christians make up 1/3 of American tourists that visit Israel according to the country’s Minister of Tourism.

“The Evangelical Christian community is a major pillar of the tourism industry in Israel, and they are true friends of Israel wherever they are,” said Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog in an article this week in The Jerusalem Post.

Herzog, who is the son of the late Israeli President Chaim Herzong, said American Jews compose about 40 percent of the U.S. tourism market with Evangelicals a close second, according to the Jerusalem-based newspaper.

The minister’s remarks came as Israel received nearly 5,000 Evangelical tourists for the annual Feast of Tabernacles celebrations – the largest single tourism event each year. Most groups will observe the festival this year on Oct. 7-14.

The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is one of the three major holidays in Judaism where the Jewish population travels to the Temple of Jerusalem. The pilgrimage festival lasts for seven days with some people sleeping in temporary structures called Sukkah – reminiscent of the ones the ancient Israelites dwelt in during their 40 years in the desert – where they reflect on their sins and God’s goodness in providing for all their needs.

This year marks the 27th annual event sponsored by the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.

“Since 1980, God has used this ministry to revive the ancient biblical tradition of the nations coming up to Jerusalem to keep this feast of joy," said the Rev. Malcolm Hedding, the International Christian Embassy's executive director, according to The Jerusalem Post. "Our thousands of Christian pilgrims bring tremendous enthusiasm to this city during Sukkot and we look forward to hosting them again this year."

Earlier this month, Christians around the world also showed support for Israel during the annual International Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem (DPPJ). On Oct. 1, around 100 million Christians from 100 nations joined the massive global prayer initiative for peace to all inhabitants of Jerusalem, for Jews and non-Jews as well. A special DPPJ reception was held at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem with co-chairmen Dr. Jack Hayford and the Rev. Robert Stearns.

Israel’s tourism minister said he also expects a boom in tourism from Evangelicals from Latin America and Europe.