What was tourism in Israel like before COVID?
Before COVID-19 hit Israel, Christians made up 55% of all tourism in 2019, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. Of the Christians that visited, 28% of them were Evangelicals – which also made up 13% of all tourism. When the pandemic began the following year, tourism dropped from 4.5 million in 2019 to 831,500 – which is 81% less.
This year Over 2,000 Christians from 70 countries will travel to Jerusalem between the 9th and 16th of October to take part in the 43rd annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration.
The event, which is said to be both the largest Christian gathering and largest solidarity mission to Israel this year, is sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ).
The ICEJ’s Feast will begin at the Sea of Galilee, then go on to the Capernaum National Park for two days and then will end in Jerusalem.
The Feast of Tabernacles is also called ‘Sukkot’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘booths’ or ‘tents’. The Jewish people constructed makeshift tents, just as the Israelites while roaming in the desert, for the feast to commemorate their liberation from Egypt by the hand of God. This joyful holiday is a recognition of God’s salvation, shelter, provision, and trustworthiness. The Feast of Tabernacles is a 7-day autumn celebration honoring the 40-year pilgrimage of the Israelites in the desert. Along with Passover and the Festival of Weeks, Sukkot is one of three notable pilgrimage feasts found in the Bible when all Jewish men were expected to come before the Lord in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Thousands of Christians around the world celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles by participating in construction of makeshift tents to identify with those Jewish people who traveled in the desert celebrating their liberation from Egypt bondage by the hand of God.
***Information adapted from the Jerusalem Post