Eilat Seeks to Ban ‘Freeloading’ Tourists

Aerial view of Eilat. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Eilat was full during Chol Hamoed Pesach, with hotels, youth hostels – and beaches – at almost full capacity. Despite the bounty from tourism, it is that latter “accommodation” (the beaches) that has city fathers in Eilat and along the Dead Sea up in arms – as prime beach space is being taken up by trailers and tents of tourists who either can’t find or don’t want to pay for space in hotels.

Unlike in the Kinneret area, where ample spaces have been set aside for tents, there are few areas in Eilat and along the Dead Sea to accommodate low-cost tourists, and with a lack of apportioned areas, families and groups have taken to pitching their tents or parking their caravans along regular beaches. Inspectors who come to shoo away the visitors have been met with a variety of reactions, including loud arguments about who “owns” the beaches.

The problem has become worse over the past year, city officials told Yisrael Hayom, and as a result the Eilat municipality set up large stones at the entrance to beaches before Pesach, in order to prevent caravans, at least, from parking on the shore. A caravan that sleeps five rents for about NIS 800 a night, far cheaper than hotel accommodations.

Officials said that they set aside several shore areas for the caravans, and once an analysis is done of how they were used, it is likely that the program will be expanded.