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Turks come to Israel in record numbers

The strengthening of business ties between the two countries results in an increase in Turkish citizens arriving in Israel, Israeli officials say.
Visitors walk inside a cave situated below the ancient towns of Maresha and Beit Guvrin in the Judean Lowlands June 24, 2014. UNESCO designated the caves of Maresha and Beit Guvrin as a world heritage site on Sunday. The site features expansive man-made ancient tunnel systems, some dating back as early as the first century BC. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (ISRAEL - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY TRAVEL) - RTR3VIXK

Tourism between Israel and Turkey was traditionally a rather one-sided affair. In 2008, a record year (and a flourishing one) in the relationship between the two countries, over half a million Israelis visited Turkey. But the Israeli Ministry of Tourism cites figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics stating that just 17,253 Turks chose to reciprocate by visiting Israel that same year.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since then. The events surrounding the Mavi Marmara flotilla in 2010, extreme statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the growth of the Islamic elements in Turkey and also the economic crisis resulted in several quite arid years in terms of bilateral tourism.

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