Israel aims to woo Christian tourists as Gaza war continues

Israel’s Tourism Minister Haim Katz headed to Nashville on Sunday to take part in the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) Christian media convention and deliver a message that “Israel is safe for tourists.”

NRB, which opens Tuesday, is the world’s largest convention for Christian media. This year, more than 4,000 communicators will take part in the event. 

Katz will meet with top media networks, including Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the most prominent Evangelical TV network in the United States, and Salem Group, which also ranks in the top list for conservative audiences. 

In addition, he will hold meetings with top tourism and travel groups. His ministry will host a booth at the conference expo, where tour operators, social organizations, entrepreneurs, and others can also present themselves – aiming to woo Christian travelers back to the Jewish state.

Breakfast honoring Israel at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville 2022 (credit: All Israel News Staff)

‘Faith-based tourism’

“The year 2024 will be characterized by faith-based and solidarity tourism,” Katz said. “The NRB convention is a key event to garner support and promote travel to Israel. The American market is the largest source market for Israel, with the highest figures for incoming tourism and is very significant for the Israeli economy. Demand from the US is at a peak.

“We must maintain the momentum and, especially in light of the war, encourage tourism to Israel as much as possible.”

According to the Tourism Ministry, more than a third of tourism to Israel comes from the United States. Moreover, more than half (56%) of tourists are Christians.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, several Christian tours have traveled to the country on solidarity missions. In addition, several prominent Evangelical leaders, from former White House officials Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo to Ralph Reed and Franklin Graham, have visited Israel. 

While Israel’s tourism industry rebounded and experienced substantial growth in 2023 following the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gaza war that began on October 7 has been a blow. Israel ended 2023 with 3.01 million tourist entries, 23% less than the 3.9 million who were expected to come.

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