Around 60,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to visit Israel this Christmas. The Israeli Tourism Ministry has said that the number of pilgrims is around 50 per cent higher than in 2006.

Around 60,000 Christian pilgrims are expected to visit Israel this Christmas. The Israeli Tourism Ministry has said that the number of pilgrims is around 50 per cent higher than in 2006.

This year, a total of around one million Christian tourists, half of them pilgrims, are expected to visit Israel. The number represents a 30 per cent increase on the number of Christian tourists visiting last year.

At present both the Israeli and the Palestinian Tourism Ministries and the Israeli police are making efforts to make travel for pilgrims from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and Nazareth as smooth as possible, reports ynetnews.com

The Israeli Tourism Ministry is also working with the Israel Airports Authority to make entry into Israel easier due to the large number of expected tourists arriving at Ben Gurion Airport and at the Taba and Allenby crossings.

Earlier this year, Raji Khoury of Jerusalem-based Shepherds Tours, who organise Christian pilgrimages told Christian today, “[Business] was so good until the Lebanese war. It went down as if we started [at zero] in 2000 again. Now it’s picked up, now it’s really good in 2007.”