Eilat Hilton 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Eli Gonen, president of the Israel Hotel Association, sent a letter to Finance
Minister Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday, expressing dismay that his industry had
been left out of the economic arrangements bill section on capital investment
Gonen wrote that despite the tourism industry’s obvious
contribution to the economy and the desperate need for additional hotels, the
Finance Ministry was blocking development by not including them in the
“Developing tourism and hotels is a central tenet of the Israeli
economy, producing thousands of jobs across the country and creating economic
and employment solutions for the periphery. In light of the increase in tourism
and the need for more hotels, we demand that tourism be included in the basket
of benefits that the government provides investors with. We should learn from
our neighbors, who encouraged the building of thousands of hotel rooms and a
huge increase in the number of tourists by adopting appropriate incentive
plans,” Gonen wrote.
he said that in meetings with Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister had agreed with the association’s
positions, stressing the importance of tourism to the economy’s
In an additional letter to Knesset Finance Committee
chairman Moshe Gafni, Gonen wrote that it is absurd that the tourism industry
was being left out of the bill and asked Gafni to torpedo the Finance Ministry’s
The Finance Ministry spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that Gonen’s
claims were completely false.
“It has been clear from the start that the
bill referred to industry and not tourism. There has been no reduction to the
benefits given to hotels in the capital investments incentive law. Moreover, the
budget for this issue was settled in the government between the ministers of
finance and tourism. It is important to note that regardless of the benefits
given as part of the capital investments incentive law, the hotel industry is
subsidized by hundreds of millions of shekels through value added tax exemptions
on tourists,” the spokesman said.
Israeli tourism, which is experiencing
a record year in terms of incoming tourists, needs thousands of new hotel rooms
to meet rising demand.
Hoteliers and tourism professionals say the
difficulty in getting loans is keeping investors away.