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2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

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Israel sees 10% boost to Christian tourism from pope

AFP

Parish priest leads an Arabic mass in the Saint Joseph's Latin Parish in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa, northern Israel, on May 18, 2014Parish priest leads an Arabic mass in the Saint Joseph's Latin Parish in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa, northern Israel, on May 18, 2014

Parish priest leads an Arabic mass in the Saint Joseph's Latin Parish in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa, northern Israel, on May 18, 2014Parish priest leads an Arabic mass in the Saint Joseph's Latin Parish in the Mediterranean coastal city of Haifa, northern Israel, on May 18, 2014

Israel's tourism ministry said Sunday it expects the papal visit later this month to give a sharp boost to tourism by Christians, who already account for most of the market.

"As a result of the visit to the Holy Land by Pope Francis, who is such a popular figure and significant leader for the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, the ministry estimates an increase of tens of thousands in the numbers of Christians visiting Israel," the ministry said.

"Christian tourism, which accounts for about 60 percent of all incoming tourism, is expected to increase by about 10 percent in 2014," it said.

It added that 2013 was a record year for tourism to Israel, with 3.54 million entries logged.

It said Jews made up 22 percent of the visitors, with Roman Catholics, at 26 percent, the largest of the Christian denominations.

The ministry said the May 25-26 visit of Pope Francis would be streamed live on a dedicated website, www.holyland-pilgrimage.org, to maximise the impact.

Date created : 2014-05-18