In April 2010, Russia overtook the United States to become the biggest source of tourists to Israel. Like Americans visiting Israel, Russians no longer need to have a visa.
More than half a million Russian are likely to visit Israel in 2010, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday after talks with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman.
“We were pleased to say today that the number of Russian tourists visiting Israel this year will definitely exceed half a million,” Lavrov said.
Russia and Israel signed an agreement abolishing their visa regimes in March 2008. The agreement came into effect on September 20, 2008.
The Israeli Ministry of Tourism reported that more than 220,000 Russian tourists have visited the country since the beginning of 2010. The figure for May alone reached 53,000, 60% more than the same month last year.
The same day Russia announced that it was sending armored vehicles via Jordan to be used by the Palestinians. Israel had earlier denounced this move.