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Jerusalem Breaks Tourism Record

Official statistics released Monday reveal 2010 was a record year for tourism in Jerusalem.

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Mike Kemp | Getty Images

The capital city of Israel accomodated 3.5 million tourists last year. Hotels in Jerusalem saw a 20 percent hike in occupancy from the previous year.

Regardless, Jerusalem's mayor Nir Barkat said further challenges lie ahead for the ancient city's tourism industry.

Barkat said his goal over the next ten years was to attract 10 million tourists. According to government estimates, that would create 140,000 new jobs.

Barkat said he believed that the name Jerusalem stands as one of the world's best municipal brands, yet that alone won't be enough to achieve tourism goals. Barkat is working to expand Jerusalem's cultural landmarks, including museums, parks near the walled Old City and high-end hotels.

A new Waldorf Astoria hotel with 223 rooms is currently being constructed within walking distance of the Old City and is expected to open in the next several months. The facility will be Israel's first Waldorf.

The mayor is also laying plans for another 10 million square feet of office space and 50,000 new apartments.