When asked where in the world I’d like to visit again, one of my top three choices is always the State of Israel. Ira and I have visited three times. We are looking forward to planning a future trip whenever it will fit into our busy travel schedule.
I had the good fortune to talk with Jill Daly, the Director of the Midwest Region of the Israel Ministry of Tourism, when she was in Colorado. Jill outlined a few exciting developments and reasons why you should visit Israel within the coming year. Perhaps, in 2020 it will happen for Ira and me.
If you are planning to go to Israel in 2020, check out what Jill shared with me.
In 2018. Israel hosted 4.12 million visitors. This was a 14% increase from 2017 and an impressive gain of 42% compared to 2016. While these statistics are remarkable, the fact that 35% of the first time visitors return for a second visit evidences that Israel is a trendy place to visit for a cross-section of travelers.
Increase in Flight Options
Options for travelers in Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco are increasing. Watch for changes in Chicago and Dallas.
The New Airport in Eilat
The Ilan and Asaf Ramon International airport is a brand new airport designed by two of Israel’s largest architecture firms – Amir Mann-Ami Shinar Architects & Planners and Moshe Tzur Architects & Town Planners Ltd. These firms designed the airport to embrace the natural landscape of the Negev Desert with full windows allowing plenty of natural light. The terminal boasts an open-air café with a biological pool and garden. Bus service will run to and from the airport from Eilat. New lines will also service routes between the airport and Beer Sheva and Mitzpe Ramon, enabling easier access to southern Israel. This new airport is replacing the two nearby airports, Eilat City Airport and Ovda Airport. The new airport creates an impressive new international gateway to Southern Israel and the Red Sea.
New Hotels Meeting Needs of Increased Tourism
While some travelers prefer accommodations that have a track record, others seek out something new. Recent openings in Tel Aviv include the Jaffa (a Luxury Collection Marriott Hotel), the Link Hotel & Hub (Dan Hotels), the Drisco Tel Aviv (Independent), the Lighthouse (Brown Hotels), the Dave Levinsky (Brown Hotels), and the Opera Tel Aviv by Hebert Samuel (Herbert Samuel). In Jerusalem, check out the Ibis Style Jerusalem (AccorHotels) and the Lady Stern Jerusalem (Independent). Within the next year, look for these hotel openings in Tel Aviv—the Theodor (Brown Hotels), the WOM Allenby (Brown Hotels), the Hotel Bobo (Brown Hotels), the Deborah Brown (Brown Hotels), the Brown JLM (Brown Hotels), the Kempinski David Hotel (Kempinski), and the Nobu Tel Aviv (Nobu).
Accessibility for the Disabled
The government has made efforts to make the Old City of Jerusalem accessible to more people. The city now boasts 4km of sidewalks that make the Old City accessible for the mobility impaired. Renovations were made to 90% of the streets, sidewalks, and alleyways running through the Muslim, Christian and Armenian quarters of the Old City. A free phone app called Accessible JLM-Old City is available in eight languages. It provides real-time navigation allowing users to map out an accessible route to explore the Old City.
Vegan Capital of the World: Tel Aviv
In a Mediterranean climate, it is possible to harvest a bountiful selection of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Locally sourced products allow chefs to create innovative vegan recipes that represent culinary traditions from around the world. Israel is home to the largest percentage of vegans per capita. Restaurants in Israel are constantly innovating their menus. Vegan options are readily available at many of the country’s establishments, from corner bakeries to high-end restaurants. Tel Aviv has served as the trendsetter for the proliferation of vegan cuisine. The city was recently recognized as one of the top foodie destinations by BBC’s Good Food. Happy Cow also singled out Tel Aviv as one of the ten most vegan-friendly cities in the world.
Israel Pass & Ride
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority teamed up with the Ministry of Transport and Road Safety and the Ministry of Tourism to create useful pass options for visitors and locals. The pass can be purchased at Ben-Gurion Airport as well as a few other locations. While close to 70 national parks and nature reserves are included in the list of options, the pass options include 3-site entry and 6-site entry along with travel on public transportation throughout Israel and up to 20% off on other admission fees. For more information visit The Israel Pass & Ride.
In 2020, the government will expand the biking and hiking trail systems throughout the country. Look for opportunities to explore the Golan, the Judean Hills between vineyards, the Negev, and the Ramon Crater. Yes, it is even possible to go white water rafting, kayaking and downhill skiing for a short season in Israel.
Active archeological sites are plentiful. Many encourage volunteer assistance. For more information check out this link which offers a 2019 list of Archaeological Excavations in Israel on the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs page.
When Sandy isn’t trekking or writing in the Colorado Rockies, she is traveling. She has visited more than 40 countries and lived as an international teacher in Bangalore, India.
Sandy shares her lifestyle and travel experiences with international and domestic online sites and print media. Her stories have appeared in Hemispheres, Destinations Magazine, KUHL’s Born in the Mountain blog, Grand Magazine, Wandering Educators, Golden Living, One Travel, Miles Away, Canadian Jewish News, Getting On Travel, Far and Wide, Colorado Parent, Traveler Confidential, Family Circle- Momster, and others. As the content coordinator for Golden Living, a Best Version Media publication mailed to Golden, Colorado residents, she writes family and business feature stories and a monthly travel tip column.
Sandy’s award-winning book, May This Be the Best Year of Your Life, is a resource for people contemplating an expat lifestyle and living outside their comfort zone.