In an effort to encourage tourism from Japan to Israel, the Tourism Ministry is taking 130 Japanese priests this week on tour of the major Christianity holy sites. The itinerary includes Jerusalem, Nazareth, Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee.

“Israel, the Holy Land, with Jerusalem at its core, represents a pilgrimage destination for people from all over the world, interested in our rich variety of religious, cultural and historical sites,” said Tourism Minister Director-General Noaz Bar-Nir. “The Tourism Ministry will continue its activities in the Christian market, while positioning Israel as an attractive tourism destination, in order to increase incoming tourism and reach the target of four million tourists in 2012.”

The Tourism Ministry has increased its marketing activities in Asia with an overall investment of six million shekels. Some 17,800 tourists arrived in Israel from Japan in 2011, two percent more than in 2012.

The Tourism Ministry believes that an increase in marketing activities in Asia, working with potential target markets for incoming tourism, will generate an increase in visitors from Asia to 180,000 in 2012.