Tourism Ministry’s Goal – 10 Million Tourists a Year

YERUSHALAYIM -
Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov speaks at the Economic Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, Tuesday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov on Tuesday briefed the Economic Affairs Committee on the ministry’s plans for the coming years, mainly against the backdrop of the sharp decline​ in incoming tourism due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Committee Chair MK Michael Biton (Blue and White) stressed that the tourism industry must turn the coronavirus crisis into an opportunity and offer reasonable prices for Israelis at vacation spots. He called to subsidize these vacation spots if prices offered to Israelis will be 20% lower than the prices in 2019.

Razvozov complained about the high cost of vacationing in Israel, and said his ministry’s job was to increase the number of available hotel rooms and increase the ministry’s supervision over hotels in the country. According to Minister Razvozov, every 100,000 tourists create some 3,400 jobs. He said hotels, mainly in Israel’s outlying areas, will soon receive some NIS 50 million of the NIS 300 million earmarked as compensation for financial losses incurred by hotels during the pandemic.

Razvozov argued that if the Omicron variant does not lead to a significant rise in morbidity, the skies should be reopened within 24 hours. The ministry’s target, he said, is 10 million tourists a year, who will inject some NIS 60 billion into the Israeli economy. In order to reach this goal, Israel must invest in tourism infrastructure, as well as in the branding, maintenance and preservation of tourist attractions. The state must also improve the tourist experience in Israel and maximize the potential of domestic tourism, he said.

MK Samy Abu Shahadeh (Joint List) said the compensation given to new businesses during the coronavirus period was insufficient. MK Yael Ron Ben-Moshe (Blue and White) complained about the difficulties in implementing the budgets for tourism incubators. MK Yorai Lahav Hertzanu (Yesh Atid) welcomed the emphasis that is being placed on sustainable tourism, while MK Keren Barak (Likud) called to defer the payment of loans taken out by businesses in the tourism industry.