The new Mamilla open-air mall is an upscale shopping street in Jerusalem. The new Mamilla open-air mall is an upscale shopping street in Jerusalem. The new Mamilla open-air mall is an upscale shopping street in Jerusalem. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Jerusalem named fastest-growing tourist destination of 2018

International arrivals spiked 38% in the past 12 months.

Did you travel to Jerusalem this year? If so, you were not alone. Not by a long shot.

According to just-published statistics, in 2018 the Mediterranean city experienced the biggest growth in tourists than any other city. The number of international arrivals jumped 38% this year, nearly doubling since 2016.

The findings come from Euromonitor International, a London-based market research firm with analysts in more than 100 countries. Coming in second and third place in the rankings were two Indian cities – Chennai and Agra – which experienced 30 percent growth and 24 percent growth, respectively. Two U.S. cities – Miami and Las Vegas – also made the top 10.

According to the report, one of the reasons for Jerusalem's high ranking is a marketing push by the Israeli tourism industry that included airing commercials like the one below during popular television shows in the United States:

The ad campaign continued offline as well, on billboards and the side of buses in major metropolitan areas – including in New York, San Francisco, Milan and Amsterdam.

The new report also named Jerusalem as one of four cities to watch, alongside Mumbai, Osaka, and Porto.

The news comes on the heels of 2017, which was a record year for Israeli tourism. 3.6 million tourists visited Israel last year, itself a 25% increase from 2016. The majority of them were from the U.S., and 59% were first-time visitors.

The trend goes back even a year earlier, when Travel + Leisure Magazine named Jerusalem one of the world's best cities in 2015. “It’s not surprising that Jerusalem made the list,” Jonathan Caras, a Jerusalem-based entrepreneur, told From The Grapevine at the time. “This city is a cultural touchstone, an emerging tech center and sits at the intersection of many different culinary styles. It makes sense for it to be a hotspot for global business and tourism."

The main building of the office park hosts several companies and ground-level cafe. The Jerusalem Technology park is a campus of office buildings that is home to many startups (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

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Jerusalem named fastest-growing tourist destination of 2018
International arrivals to Jerusalem spiked 38% in the past 12 months.