“Green Islands” Proposed in Tourism Exit Strategy

A closed beach at the Red Sea in the resort city of Eilat, during the covid pandemic. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

Newly appointed Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen has proposed designating “green islands”—pandemic-safe tourism zones—part of an exit strategy for the battered industry.

The measure, if approved, would allow domestic and international tourists to enter selected cities such as Eilat.

“As I begin my term as Tourism Minister, the incoming tourism statistics are very bad. One of my first steps in the position was to reach an agreement with the Health Minister on presenting an exit strategy outline for the industry,” said Farkash Hacohen on Wednesday.

“Tourism is an important economic industry, of the utmost significance for the Israeli economy and one of the main victims of the corona crisis. Tourism is not just nice to have, not at all. Opening the industry would be part of the solution to the unemployment problem, the emotional stress, the economy and the crisis.”

Another idea she suggested was opening of zimmerim (family-operated guest houses) “because, in our opinion, it is healthier for a family to drive to a zimmer than to visit grandparents – for their health and emotional well-being.”

The Israeli tourism industry has lost 12.1 billion shekels this year due to pandemic lockdowns, the Tourism Ministry reported Wednesday.

September alone saw a 96% drop in the number of tourists entering the country – 15,100 compared to 405,000 last year at the same time.

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