2015. december 23., szerda

Tens of thousands are expected to visit Israel during the Christmas period

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin: "I welcome the thousands of visitors who are expected to arrive in Israel for the Christmas holiday. We are doing our utmost to offer assistance to each and every one and welcome them. The ministry invests significantly throughout the year in the conservation and upgrading of Christian sites in order to ensure that every Christian can visit the sites that are sacred for him. We invite you to visit these sites and enjoy a powerful religious and spiritual experience."
From 15:00 on Christmas Eve through to 03:00 on Christmas Day, the Ministry of Tourism will offer free shuttle transportation, helping pilgrims travelling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Buses will leave every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from the bus stop near the Carta Parking lot (opposite Jaffa Gate and near to the Mamilla Boulevard). The bus will also stop near the entrance to the Mar Elias Monastery, and at the Rosmarin junction, before continuing via Rachel's Crossing to Bethlehem - and then back again.  Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism will welcome tourists and pilgrims at Rachel’s Crossing with sweets in the spirit of the holiday. The ministry will also provide a firework display during the Christmas parade in Nazareth. 
Jerusalem: sunset view from the Mount of Olives, with Church of Mary Magdalene
(Russian) and Dome of the Rock
 (Ministry of Tourism)
On Christmas Eve, 24.12.15, the traditional parade of thousands of local youth, together with the leaders of the Christian communities, will pass through Nazareth from 15:00. The parade ends at the plaza in front of the Basilica with a firework display to announce the opening of the festive Christmas celebrations (17:30). Christmas Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of the Annunciation at 19:00.
The city of Nazareth, the Basilica of Annunciation, accessible via Gospel Trail
(Ministry of Tourism)
The Christian sites include, among others, the baptism site at Qasr el Yahud near the Dead Sea, Mount Zion and Ein Karem in Jerusalem and the Gospel Trail in the Galilee. Other projects include, among others, the boardwalk from Tiberias to Capernaum, Korazim and Mount Precipice.
The Papal visit to Israel in May 2014 brought thousands of tourists and pilgrims to Israel and, following the visit, hundreds of thousands more tourists who traveled to the Holy Land as a result.

Websites and Facebook pages for the Catholic and Evangelical communities
www.holyland-pilgrimage.org (the Tourism Ministry’s dedicated site for Catholic pilgrims, available in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Polish and Portuguese).
http://www.goisrael.com/Evng (the Tourism Ministry’s dedicated site for Evangelical Christians)

Christian tourism – facts & figures:
54% of the 2.9 million tourist entries (those staying at least one night) in 2014 were Christians. Of these, 39% were Catholic, 27% Protestants, 27% Orthodox. Among the Protestants, 74% were Evangelicals (who comprise 20% of all Christian tourists and 8% of all tourists), while 26% were from the mainstream and the Afro-American church. Among the Orthodox, 85% belong to the Russian Orthodox Church, and 15% to the Greek Orthodox and others. 
21% of all visitors to Israel defined the purpose of their visit as pilgrimage. The vast majority of all Christian visitors visit Jerusalem, with about a third visiting Tel Aviv-Jaffa. The most visited sites by Christians (by descending order) were Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Jewish Quarter, Capernaum, Old Jaffa, Tower of David, Qumran, Yad Vashem, Beit Shean and Qasr el Yahud.

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