“Tourism Aliyah” has Been Growing
Since the 90's, there have always been people who come to Israel as tourists and want to make Aliyah inside the country. According to the data of Knesset Research and Information Center the “Tourism Aliyah” was low during the high peak of general Aliyah in the beginning 90s when over million Jews from the collapsing Soviet Union returned to their homeland Israel (i.e. in 1990 only 2.1 % of new immigrants changed their status inside Israel).
In the middle and end of the 90s, when the Aliyah numbers were dropping, the relative number of “tourist olim” grew compared to those who received their “oleh” – new immigrant – visas in their original countries (i.e. 14.8 % in 1997). After a slight drop, the relative number of “tourist olim” has been rising again from 2004, peaking at 24.7 % in 2014.
Earlier the “tourist olim” have been mostly well-to-do Jews from western countries, desiring to try and check out the conditions in the new country prior to applying for citizenship. In recent years many Ukrainian Jews arrived to Israel with a tourist visa without applying for oleh visa in the Israeli consulates in Ukraine as they escaped the conflict in eastern Ukraine. This phenomenon has resulted in many financially unstable families being stuck for months in the bureaucratic hurdles in Israel. Unfortunately Israeli government has not been prepared for such scenarios that are very probable to happen again and again, taking into consideration the rising anti-Semitism and growing number of conflicts in the world.