National Geographic readers in Russia voted for Israel as one of the three top destinations in the world in the ‘tourism and sightseeing’ category, according to a recent survey by the international magazine.
Readers placed Israel in the second spot, with Italy taking the top position and Holland in third place. Other countries in the competition included the United States, France, Germany, China and Brazil, to name a few.
The National Geographic Traveler Awards in Russia is an annual competition. During the first stage, countries are chosen by travel agents and tour operators in Russia, after which magazine readers choose their favorite destinations. This year, over 10,000 people placed their vote for the 48 countries in the various categories.
In 2010, some 550,000 tourists from Russia came to Israel according to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism statistics. From the beginning of this year through September, some 357,000 Russian visitors have come to Israel.
“The cancellation of the visa requirement for Russian tourists has removed the bureaucratic block and has transformed Israel into a close destination which is both accessible and attractive,” said Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov. “Russia has turned into the second leader in tourism to Israel and will continue to remain in the center of the Ministry of Tourism’s marketing efforts, while larger budgets are allocated.”