Following five years without a significant change in the number of hotel rooms housing visitors to Israel, the Tourism Ministry has announced the allocation of NIS 190 million for the expansion of the country's offerings for overnight lodging.
The announcement Sunday marks the start of a two-phase bidding and construction program designed to increase space in the country's hotels by between 2,000 and 2,500 rooms.
According to the plan, which was approved by the Tourism and Treasury Ministries and by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, contractors are invited to submit plans through October 21 for the construction of new hotels and the expansion of existing hotels, with NIS 95m. to be handed out to bid winners.
A second competition, also for funds totaling NIS 95m., will begin at the start of next year.
The announcement of new government allocations for hotel construction marks the second such budget decision in under a month, following an August 13 announcement that some NIS 176m. had been approved for the construction and expansion of hotels outside the center of the country.
Tourism Ministry officials contend a shortage of hotel rooms could emerge as soon as 2009, a development it says would result in tens of millions of dollars in missed tourism revenues.