Michal Korach

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority oversees 67 sites in Israel, all of them open to the public, some free of charge. In 2008, these national parks saw 7.9 million visitors, of which 68 percent were Israelis and 32 percent were foreigners. The number of visitors to Israel’s national parks has been growing steadily. It has more than doubled in less than 10 years, from 3.7 million visitors in 2001, to 6.1 million in 2005 to 7.9 million in 2008.
The parks in northern and southern Israel received the greatest number of visitors (40% and 27%, respectively), but this could be explained by the fact that these districts are the largest and have more national parks and thus had a greater influx of tourists. In fact, some 75% of all of Israel’s national parks are found in the North and South. The Jerusalem District, which contains the Judea and Samaria region, received 12% of all visits to Israeli national parks.
The data clearly shows that tourists prefer parks with natural water sources. The most popular nature parks were the Banyas Springs, Ein Gedi and Beit Yanai Beach. The most popular historical sites were Masada, Caesarea and Qumran.
The Jerusalem district has nine national nature and historical sites, which received 944,600 visitors in 2008 – 43% of them foreign. The most popular nature site in the Jerusalem region was Absalom (stalactite) Cave, which was visited by 198,000 people that year, most of them Israelis. The most popular historical site, Qumran, was visited by 389,300 people, most of them foreigners.