As the sun set on 2021, Israel—along with the rest of the world—was eager to return to a sense of normalcy after nearly two years of lockdown, social distancing and isolation. There were, however, a few nagging questions. Was the fallout of COVID-19 so severe that the repercussions would paralyze us for years to come? What long-term effect did the global pandemic have on economies, societies and the way we had always done things?
Israel looked to 2022 with cautious optimism—vowing to revive the COVID-ravaged economy and resuscitate the tourism industry that had grounded to a halt—but not making any promises. Rebuilding what the pandemic razed would, after all, take time. Yet today, 12 months later, Israel has appeared to bounce back from the domino effect of COVID with remarkable power of endurance.
The Jewish state is no stranger to challenges. This tiny nation continues to face terrorism, war, threats of annihilation, attempts to call its legitimacy into question and accusations of all kinds of evils on a regular basis. Perhaps these hardships have prepared Israel to take on trials with dogged determination, willing to do what it takes not only to survive but to thrive. And perhaps that is why the Jewish state manages to tackle the post-COVID issues with such confidence.
“Twelve months ago, Israel’s economists predicted political instability and a sluggish COVID recovery. They were wrong…Economic growth exceeded expectations, logging in at 8.2% last year and is on track to reach 5.5% in 2022. Although some segments are still suffering, the job market bounced back far more quickly than economists had expected. The jobless rate was 4.1% at the end of December and is due to fall to historic lows this year…”
—David Rosenberg in “The Year Israel Defied All the Economists’ Expectations”
“Once again, Israel has proved to be a very resilient economy. As time passes, we are realizing that it is something structural within the economy, which means that each time there is a crisis, Israel manages to survive better than other advanced economies.”
—Victor Bahar, chief economist at Bank Hapoalim, a leading Israeli bank
“During the pandemic, the tech sector in Israel and globally became turbocharged, with demand for technologies surging as office workers, fitness classes and schools transitioned to remote mode. Israel, with one of the world’s most thriving tech ecosystems and more than 7,000 startups, was well positioned to seize this opportunity. Its tech firms helped buffer the economy against the worst of coronavirus’s ravages.”
—Shoshanna Solomon in “Israel at 74: Economy Shows Resilience, though Clouds Loom Large on the Horizon”
“Israel has been able to do so well because of the strength and diversity of its economy. It is a highly industrialized country mostly based upon a significant amount of research and development in many fields ranging from hi-tech to traditional goods manufacturing. Although Israel lacks raw materials and natural resources, it more than makes up for that with its R&D centers, scientific institutes and highly educated and qualified labor force.”
—Barnea in “2021 Snapshot: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Israeli Economy”
“So many of us are longing to be in Israel where the connection to spirituality is more tangible, more vibrant, more real. I’m struck by how powerful the urge is, how much and how many people want to go. It’s truly wonderful. Being deprived of that experience for the past two years has created a void, a space that seeks filling. Yes, God is available everywhere, but we imperfect and material human beings benefit from having a physical place where connection is more possible, more tangible, more vibrant, more real.”
— Emuna Braverman writes in “Yearning for Israel after COVID Kept Us Away”
“Last year, our skies were closed; there were corona restrictions in place with new variants emerging, and serious concerns about incoming tourism. Despite the situation, we did not give up, at any stage. We worked hard to open up the industry and we brought the tourism industry back to life in spite of the challenges. To my joy, in contrast to all the pessimistic forecasts, we can see today that tourism has returned to Israel. A million tourists inject money into the Israeli economy, create job opportunities throughout the country and provide a livelihood for whole families. Now we look forward to the objective I have set for the industry: 10 million tourists in 2030.”
—Yoel Razvozov, Israeli tourism minister welcomes the millionth tourist in 2022 to Israel
“Once the COVID-19 crisis began and lockdowns were imposed, visitor numbers plummeted and businesses were battered. Tour guides struggled and were told to retrain for other professions as recently as six months ago. But inbound tourism has been bouncing back slowly…The overall data supports Tourism Ministry estimates that 2022 may see between 2.2 and 2.5 million tourist visits, an indication that Israel’s tourism industry is well into its post-pandemic recovery.”
—Danielle Nagler in “Tourism Levels Continue to Climb toward Pre-COVID Records”
“In the year prior to the pandemic, Israel welcomed a record 4.5 million tourists, which contributed more than $2 billion to its economy. Thepandemic took a massive toll on the Israeli tour guides who led pilgrims through the Holy Land. These 2022 numbers show that the world is still eager to see the Holy Land and experience Israel.”
—Chris Katulka, Eye on the Middle East
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