39 % increase in tourism to Israel 267,000 Tourists Visited Israel in March; an Increase of 36 Percent An increase of 36% was recorded in the numbers of incoming tourists visiting Israel in March 2008, with 267,000 tourists (compared to 196,000 in March 2007). This is a similar number to those arriving in 2000, during Israel's record tourism year. In the months January—March 2008, over 648,000 tourists visited Israel, an increase of 44% over the same period in 2007 and a 34% increase over 2006. The pace of growth is consistent with the Ministry of Tourism's forecast for 2008 of 2.8 million tourists. The tourist sites, attractions and hotels are ready to welcome the hundreds of thousands of tourists and visitors expected over the holiday period (80,000 incoming tourists are expected—an increase of 30% compared to last year—with over 80% anticipated hotel occupancy). A series of investigations was carried out by representatives of the Ministry of Tourism in the pre-Passover period in the framework of its special preparations for the Passover holiday, in those cities and resorts where large numbers of tourists are expected. These checks placed particular emphasis on cleanliness, maintenance and sufficient manpower, in particular in Jerusalem, Eilat, and around the Sea of Galilee. The tourist information offices in Eilat, Jerusalem, Ben Gurion Airport and Nazareth will operate throughout the holiday period as normal. The Ministry of Tourism has renovated many tourist sites over recent months and invites the public to visit during the holiday. These include the Agamon Lake in the Hula Valley, with its recently completed circular bicycle path, shaded seating areas, observation points and improved access. At Snir Park in the Upper Galilee, another section has been completed including a walking trail with access to the Snir stream, shaded seating areas and an enlarged car park. Infrastructure and lighting work at Timna Park has been completed and the Ein Zivan observation point in the Golan Heights has also been completed. Infrastructure work in several main streets in Jerusalem has now finished and the Clock Tower Square in Jaffa, together with its historical buildings, has been renovated. Director General of the Ministry of Tourism Shaul Tzemach [commented], "The year 2008 began with an increase in incoming tourism of 44% compared to the first two months of 2007 and we are working to continue this growth. The Ministry of Tourism wishes all tourists and visitors a happy and kosher Passover." (By Spokesman, Ministry for Tourism, April 21, 2008) Prayer Focus Praise God for the blessing of tourism to the Land of Israel. Pray that Israel and Christians around the world will be blessed with increasing numbers touring the Land and seeking its wonderful treasures. Scripture “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country” (Deuteronomy 28:3).