Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin is celebrating “an amazing and historic” 2018 in which the country welcomed a record-breaking 4,120,800 million incoming tourists.

“This achievement is a result of a revolutionary change in marketing strategy; infrastructure development; opening direct routes from new destinations; and creating collaborations with some of the largest travel agents in the world,” Levin remarked upon releasing the final numbers on January 6, 2019.

The number of tourist entries recorded between January and December 2018 represent an increase of about 14 percent compared to the same period last year, and 42% more than in 2016. Revenue from tourism in 2018 reached about $5.8 billion.

The top six source countries to Israel for incoming tourism in 2018 were the United States (897,100), France (346,000), Russia (316,000), Germany (262,500), UK (217,900) and Italy (150,600).

According to the Tourism Ministry and Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, returning tourists accounted for 40% of that total. In 2018, 61% of all tourists were Christian, 22% Jewish, 12.1% unaffiliated and 1.8% Muslim.

In December, international market research firm EuroMonitor named Jerusalem the fastest-growing tourism destination in the world.

Even though April and October were the strongest months for tourism, December saw approximately 325,600 tourist entries — 12.2% more than December 2017 and 31% more than December 2017.

Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said the opening of the new international Ramon airport near Eilat on January 21 is expected to help make 2019 another record-breaker for incoming Israeli tourism.