The Knesset passed a bill to renovate Israel’s tourism industry by increasing the number of available hotel rooms and bringing down vacation costs, Globes said on Tuesday.
The plan, proposed by Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin (Likud), provides for streamlining planning and building procedures, encouraging hoteliers through incentives that include an allocation of 20 percent of the space for residences (in certain areas in Israel), etc.
Passage was obtained despite opposition from environmental organizations that warned of damage to the coastline. With Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon also voicing objections, a compromise was worked out, which requires the District Planning and Building Commissions to approve the 20 percent added to the hotel area for residential construction.
Levin rejected the environmental claims outright, saying that “the law will make it possible and financially worthwhile to immediately construct thousands of hotel rooms. The law scrupulously preserves environmental values and the beaches, including retaining the responsibility of the Coastal Environment Protection Committee for preventing damage to the coast.
“All the attempts to argue that there is reason for concern about damage to the coast, or that revisions were made that prevented such damage, are nothing more than groundless demagoguery. Increasing the supply and the emphasis placed on building hotels with popular prices will finally cause a reduction in vacation prices, and make Israel attractive to both tourists from overseas and Israeli citizens.”
Israel Hotel Association President Eli Gonen welcomed passage of the bill: “With consistency, patience, and determination, he [Levin] has acted to promote the tourism industry. The new amendment in the law removes bureaucratic constraints that have hampered the development of hotels until now. The amendment will make it easier to build new hotels and to expand existing ones.”