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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog has given the green light to a new economic model for investments in infrastructure designated for tourism. The model, believed to be the first of its kind, was formulated in consultation with the Finance Ministry and will serve as an important facilitator for long-term tourism initiatives.
The model will be anchored in the appointment of a special director-general, who will act in conjunction with development companies and tourism entrepreneurs in accordance with pre-determined criteria and within the framework of a special budget allocated to each project. It is structured along the lines of recommendations made last year by Ernst & Young.
Each project will be ranked in relation to its marketing potential both for incoming and domestic tourism, and overall budgets will include the cost of marketing. Insofar as approval of projects is concerned, preference will be given to those designed specifically to suit the needs and tastes of incoming tourists.
Of the budget that will be set up for long-term tourist infrastructure, 65 percent will be allocated to projects whose entrepreneurs intend to cater to the incoming tourism market; 20% to those whose focus will be on domestic tourism; 10% will be set aside for unforeseen projects that become obvious in the course of developing a site; and 5% will be used for preparing a master plan and engaging in other planning operations.
Projects will be defined down to the smallest detail so that total investment expenditure can be carefully calculated without unpleasant surprises along the way.
Projects regarded as preferential, are subject to two conditions prior to the signing by local or state authorities of agreements for their implementation. One must be a matching funds agreement with the authorities for part or the whole of the project, and the other is that the state or local authority that signs the agreement must also undertake full responsibility for the maintenance of the project.
Herzog, who is the welfare minister-designate, is due to be replaced as Tourism Minister by Israel Beiteinu MK Itzhak Aharonovitch in the upcoming cabinet reshuffle. Aharonovitch, a former deputy commander of the national police force.
Meanwhile, however, Herzog is still at the helm, and is enthusiastic about the new model, which he said provides a foundation for the ministry and through it the tourism industry to work in an organized fashion, with a clear understanding of long-range objectives on projects with an indisputable tourism potential.