Officials Look to Bike Path to Boost Dead Sea Tourism

The Ein Gedi beach at the Dead Sea. (Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM - The “lowest” bike path in the world was inaugurated last week in the area of the Dead Sea. The Almog Marls bike path, a 21-kilometer route that traverses a circuitous path through Wadi Og northwest of the Dead Sea, is part of a major revitalization project aimed at increasing tourism in the Dead Sea area.

The bike path provides what riders called “amazing views” of the barren landscape of the Negev. It is designed for riders with moderate experience; the path climbs from the valley next to the Dead Sea to a height of 200 meters. Funding for the project was provided by the Environment Ministry, the Tourism Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Megillot-Yam Hamelach Regional Authority, which is responsible for its maintenance.

The bike path is just the first of dozens of projects to increase tourism in the region, long seen as an underutilized natural resource in the Israeli tourism landscape. The overall plan to increase tourism and facilities in the region was approved in 2012, with funding of nearly a billion shekels. The project includes the adding of 8,000 hotel and lodging rooms, and an increase in the population of seven towns and kibbutzim in the region.

Doron Aharon, head of development in the Tourism Ministry, said that the bike path “allows riders to have a unique and unforgettable experience in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel. The path includes challenging paths, such as crossing streams and wadis over wooden bridges, the ability to come face-to-face with wildlife, and lodging with local residents. Riders can also connect to other paths in the area, for an experience that will let them ride for more than 50 kilometers. This is among the first project in a series that will breathe new life into this region and raise the prospects of the residents of the Dead Sea region.”