Last week, a new venture was launched in the Western Galilee by philanthropist Raya Straus Ben-Dror, aimed at doubling the volume of tourism in the area.

Ozrot Hagalil (Galilee treasures) is a nonprofit initiative dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs succeed, grow and bring in more local and foreign tourists, thus promoting economic growth in the area.




     
 


To reach their goals, the organizers speak of leaping forward in the Western Galilee.

It is about including more people in the development, about social responsibility, togetherness, excellence and leadership, they say.

Four years and millions of shekels were put into the project. A new website and a cellular app will help tourists create a tailor-made tour for themselves, contact the various places such as lodgings, restaurants, shops, tour guides and attractions, and receive price quotes, answers and directions.

All the companies and organizations included in the project were monitored for months by the project’s experts to make sure that they not only provide relevant services but are also up to standard and are true to their advertising.

The project is part of Israel 15, a larger initiative developed by the Reut Institute together with Straus Ben-Dror. The Israel 15 vision calls for Israel to become one of the 15 leading countries in terms of quality of life within 15 years, to inspire its work in the areas of economic and social development.

To realize this vision, Israel’s social and economic performance must catch up with the highly developed nations.

“A leap forward of a nation is the sum of the leaps in the different regions of the nation,” says Gidi Grinstein, CEO of the Reut Institute. He explains that his vision calls for leaping forward on the national and social levels, which can only be achieved by doing it in the different regions and peripheries and using the unique resources of the regions and cities across the country, thus allowing large segments of the population to participate in and enjoy the fruits of the efforts.

“There is a disparity between Israel’s excellent human capital and the quality of its private sector on the one hand, and the mediocre quality of life Israel offers its citizens in comparison to the leading developed countries on the other. Hence, Israel is currently one of the world’s leading exporters of human capital. Therefore, Israel’s leaping forward – achieving sustainable growth that would allow the country to close the gap in quality of life with most developed nations – is not a luxury, it is a necessity” (from the Reut Institute vision).

The Western Galilee, though rich in natural and historical attractions, offering numerous activities, beautiful scenery, fascinating cultures, lodgings to suit all tastes and pockets, wonderful food, as well as hiking trails, sports and clean, cool air, is still being overlooked by many tourists.

For visitors who do make the trip, there is a wealth of nature reserves, long sandy beaches, historical and archeological sites from biblical times, early Christianity and, more recently, the War of Independence, a wealth of artists and artistic institutes such as the Keshet Eilon institute, the Ga’aton Dance Village, many museums, ecological communities, a host of culinary gems offering everything from high-quality humous to gourmet French cuisine, wineries and breweries, small dairy farms, festivals and the unique mix of religions and cultures that constitutes the Israeli people.

Some 300 companies and entrepreneurs are included in the project, and more will join soon. Many are working toward upgrading their businesses to meet the new standards set by Ozrot Hagalil. As it is a nonprofit project, the entrepreneurs do not pay to be included in the project. The platform is given to them free. In return, they are asked to maintain a high standard and improve the services they offer their clients. Anyone who patronizes one of the places in the project can be assured that he/ she will find exactly what is advertised.

“The Ozrot Hagalil initiative is the first practical embodiment of the big vision.

We plan to continue implementing more such steps in the future, attending to more growth engines as we proceed, in the hope that the Western Galilee will become a model and an example to other regions in Israel,” says Grinstein.

The website and cellular app are in Hebrew but will soon be available in English as well.

www.ozrothagalil.org.il

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