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Record-breaking year for tourist visits to Israel

    Eilat's popular beach
    Eilat's popular beach

    More British tourists travelled to Israel in the last 12 months than in any other year, it has been revealed.

    Figures released by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism showed a record year, with 3.54 million people from around the world visiting in 2013.

    That represented a one per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

    British holiday-makers showed an even greater rise, with an increase of five per cent and a total of more than 217,000 people arriving in Israel from the UK.

    Israel Government Tourist Office director Naama Oryan Kaplan said she was delighted with the results.

    "Israel is a unique country with a history that spans back thousands of years," she said.

    "Although we are small, our Mediterranean location means we can offer something for everyone, from beach side holidays to weekend city breaks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, or adventure holidays in the Negev desert, spa breaks in the Dead Sea to touring holidays of the Galilee."

    Mrs Oryan Kaplan attributed the increase to the number of flights now operating between London and Tel Aviv. El Al has increased the frequency of its flights between the two countries, with easyJet due to launch a new Gatwick to Tel Aviv service in April.

    The open skies agreement signed by the tourism ministry with the European Union last year is also expected to see the price of flights fall.

    Israel's second international airport, at Timna near Eilat, is due to be completed in 2016.

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