Lag BaOmer 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Tourism Ministry will begin marketing the grave site of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai as a tourist attraction to the haredi community, Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said on Wednesday.
His announcement came as he and others visited the site, which is being prepared for Lag Ba'omer celebrations next week.
"The central event on Lag Ba'omer attracts around 400,000 people, and around a million visitors visit the site throughout the entire year. In the coming months, the ministry will begin marketing operations in haredi communities around the world," said Misezhnikov in a press release.
Every Lag Ba'omer a memorial celebration is held at Rabbi Shimon Bar- Yochai's grave in Meron, as per his request before he died.
To accommodate the large crowds, the Tourism Ministry has spent NIS 7 million developing the area over the past year. Most of the money went to improving walkways, parking lots, traffic planning, lighting, water systems and trash facilities. Money was also invested in improving the security, firefighting, ambulance and police services in the area.
"This place has huge potential that hasn't been fulfilled yet," said ministry spokesman Amnon Lieberman on Wednesday. According to him, this is the second most visited religious site in Israel, after the Western Wall.
Lieberman said the ministry expects that its investments in the site and on publicity will be offset by the additional tourists.