If a proposal submitted by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar passes in cabinet on Sunday, Eilat hotels will be able to employ up to 1,500 Jordanians ahead of the tourism capital’s busy summer months.
This follows a proposal by the Tourism Ministry and the Economy Ministry to finance up to 27.5 percent of salaries of some of Israel’s weakest sectors – ultra-Orthodox Jews, Arabs, people with disabilities and single parents – working in hotels, in an attempt to encourage hoteliers to employ them.
But Eilat Hotel Association CEO Shabtai Shay said that most of these Israelis are not interested in working in housekeeping, cleaning and gardening in hotels.
Previously, Shay said, African immigrants filled these jobs, but this became a short-term solution as the anti-infiltration law passed in 2012 required them to live in detention facilities, leaving the hotels without employees.
“We just don’t have anybody to fill these gaps,” he said.
With 12,000 hotel rooms in a city that is almost completely dependent on tourism, hoteliers need to quickly find employees.
Shay said that Jordanians taking these jobs would create a “win-win situation,” as not only would the Eilat hotels find employees, but the deal will also help southern Jordan’s high unemployment rates.
“An approval of the proposal will provide an answer to the labor shortage,” Landau said in a press release Thursday, adding that “I am convinced that the process will even strengthen the peace between Israel and Jordan.”
Based on a previous agreement between Israel and Jordan, there are already up to 300 people coming in from Jordan to work in Eilat. Like them, the potential 1,200 new workers would be brought to the border in the morning and be returned in the evening, so “Eilat as a city would not be affected at all,” according to Shay.
The Israel Hotel Association congratulated Landau on the proposal on Thursday.
“Finally, we see a shift and it is an important step on the path… [in dealing] with the shortage of hotel industry cleaning staff,” said Israel Hotel Association president Eli Gonen.
“The tourism world has no limits, and of course we are excited about the regional cooperation with the Jordanians,” he said.