Planners recommend more Dead Sea hotel rooms
Effort aims to increase tourism in Hamei Zohar, Ein Bokek, prevent flooding in southern basin.
dead sea Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
New hotel rooms at various price levels as well as architecture geared to
integrate with the desert could boost the Dead Sea’s tourism industry, experts
The Dead Sea Preservation Government Company, together
with a national interdisciplinary team, is assembling a comprehensive plan to
submit to the Tourism Ministry within nine months for the rehabilitation of the
region’s tourism infrastructure, the ministry said on Thursday.
is part of a cabinet decision taken in February to allocate NIS 845 million to
rehabilitate the Dead Sea, in an effort spearheaded – and paid for – by the
Tourism and the Environmental Protection ministries. It aims to increase tourism
in Hamei Zohar and Ein Bokek, and to help repair areas that were damaged by the
rising water levels in the Dead Sea’s southern basin.
In January, the
cabinet also approved an agreement between the Finance Ministry and Israel
Chemicals Ltd., dividing the cost for a full harvest of the salt in the southern
basin – necessary to lower the seabed of the industrial basin.
the firm’s work has raised the level of the water and it threatens to flood
nearby hotels. Israel Chemicals subsidiary Dead Sea Works will pay for NIS 3.04
billion, or 80 percent, of this project, with the state funding the
As for the newest recommendations from the interdisciplinary
team, Shimon Daniel, CEO of the Dead Sea Preservation Government Company,
stressed that the plan will call to upgrade existing hotels as well as construct
new ones, and to build restaurants, shopping centers and other attractions, the
Tourism Ministry said.
Committee representatives also agreed that
building hotels of different levels of accommodation and price is crucial, to
bring in all types of tourists and visitors, the ministry said. Also key will be
architecture that integrates seamlessly into the desert environment as well as a
boardwalk along the Dead Sea shore.
Approximately 12 to 16 hotels will be
built over the next 10 years, with 4,000 new hotel rooms in total, the ministry
said. As part of the Law to Encourage Capital Investment, the ministry said it
will also allocate NIS 9 million for grants to entrepreneurs who aim to develop
or expand Dead Sea hotels – with applications to receive such funds available by
In 2011, the Dead Sea was the country’s most crowded leisure
destination, with 857,000 visitors and 77% occupancy, as opposed to 75.3%
occupancy in Tel Aviv and 67% in Eilat – up 43% in five years, the ministry
said, quoting data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Total hotel revenue
for the region reached NIS 1.096 billion that same year, according to the
“This is an opportunity to design the region for generations,”
Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov said. “We have made a significant step in the
rehabilitation of the Dead Sea region and the tourism facilities in the area.
According to the schedule, within nine months a new plan will be presented with
the suggested design for hotels and tourism in the area.”
Ben Hartman and
Nadav Shemer contributed to this report.