Tourism Minister: Give Me More Money and I’ll Bring in More Tourists

Israel Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Low-cost carrier EasyJet, which currently runs 20 flights a week between Tel Aviv and European cities, is likely to expand to Eilat, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told the Knesset Economics Committee, in an annul rundown of the activities of his office.

EasyJet has until now refused to consider Eilat, saying that it was not worth it for the firm financially – but with the announcement over the weekend by rival RyaAir that it would begin flying to Israel, including to Eilat, the company has had an apparent change of heart.

Levin said that his office had accomplished a great deal on a limited amount of resources, and could accomplish a great deal more if the Tourism Ministry received its due, in the form of a higher budget. In addition, he asked that his ministry be given authority over air traffic, which will allow it to make things more efficient and encourage even more competition. Currently, flight schedules and permits are under the purview of the Transportation Ministry.

“We live in a world where activities are twisted,” said Levin. “The Airports Authority, a part of the Transportation Ministry, collects fees from airlines to use facilities at Ben Gurion Airport. The Authority makes a great deal of money from this, which it transfers to the Finance Ministry, which provides money to all ministries, including the Tourism Ministry.” Better, he said, would be a system where his ministry was in charge of that money, and forward a set percentage to the Finance Ministry – with the rest invested in improving the infrastructure for tourism, Levin said.

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