The numbers of foreign tourists flying into Eilat have dropped significantly in the past two decades. Will a new airport be enough to bring the tourists back?

Is the future of the new airport in Eilat doomed before its establishment? What if the new airport doesn’t raise the number of tourists traveling to the city, as forecasted by the Ministry of Tourism?

Statistics published at the end of April show that the number of flights from Europe arriving in Eilat dropped by 83% in the last 20 years.

The statistics show that the number of travelers visiting Eilat in the past two decades has practically plateaued.. Municipal leaders and the Ministry of Tourism are hoping that the new Ramon Airport being built in Eilat won’t turn into a resource drain on the city.

Ramon airport in Eilat hopes to bring in more European tourists (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Ramon airport in Eilat hopes to bring in more European tourists (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


Records from the Central Bureau of Statistics show that in 2015, despite preferential airport slots for foreign airlines, only 26,100 foreign tourists arrived in Eilat via direct flights. This number is 83% less than the number that arrived in Eilat in 1997. Additionally, this statistic encompasses the time in which the Pope visited Israel, which was considered the “year of Europe” in regards to how many people came and visited the country from that continent.

Although the Second Intifada began in earnest that same year, the effect on tourism wasn’t felt until 2001. Before that, 143,000 tourists arrived in Eilat on direct flights from Europe.

Eilat (Photo: Shutterstock)
Eilat (Photo: Shutterstock)


From then on, the numbers of tourists have consistently been between 68,000 up until 2015, which only saw 26,100 tourists arrive on flights originating in Europe.

With the addition of Ryanair, the number of tourists in the first quarter of 2016 reached 22,100. Yet if one is to compare this to the first quarter of 1997, wherein 54,700 people flew into Eilat, they can see that the number is still 60% less today than it was two decades ago.

‘We need to upgrade the city’

Amir Halevy, director general of the Tourism Ministry, said that one must take these statistics and look at the glass as half full.

“We will be able to return Eilat to its former glory with the arrival of these low cost airlines. But it’s still not enough.”

“The authorities in Eilat need to improve their ‘product’ and make it more attractive not only to low cost international flights, but to also upgrade the city so that the city will become the number one spot for ‘Sea and Sun’ for European tourists.”

As reported by Ynetnews