The Tourism Ministry is seeking foreign investors to establish hotels in Acre and across Israel due to the increasing shortage in the number of available guest rooms. "The Tourism Ministry expects a 20 percent growth in the demand for hotel rooms throughout 2008 in accordance with the current report on the booking of hotel rooms," Tourism Ministry Director-General Shaul Tzemach said Sunday. "This apparent shortage forces us to get prepared and enlarge the supply of hotel rooms," he added. The first new hotel district is planned to be established in the Khan El-Omdan site in the northern city of Acre following a tender the Israel Lands Administration published recently for the leasing and developing of the area. This is the first time the Tourism Ministry has searched actively for foreign investors interested in developing an area and in financing further tourist projects, with an emphasis on building new hotels across Israel. A boutique hotel of 170 rooms is planned for the Khan El-Omdan site, apart from the 130 rooms in the adjacent Palm Beach Hotel and the two hostels that operate in Acre. Two more boutique hostels at the Khan El-Omdan site are currently under construction. The final date for submitting bids is April 13, while the chosen investor will sign a developing contract for five years that will be followed with a leasing contract until 2072. The chosen bidder will receive the assistance of the Tourism Ministry and the Old Acre Development Company. Khan El-Omdan is one of two most important buildings in Old Acre. Partial renovation work has been performed on the Ottoman building, whose one faÃ§ade faces the marina while the other faces Fishermen's Square. Khan El-Omdan, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, served in the past as an international commercial center due to its proximity to the port. In past years the Tourism Ministry has invested great resources in developing cultural infrastructures and tourist attractions in Old Acre, among them the Citadel, the Knights' Halls and the Knights Templars' underground passageway. A support industry was erected around these sites including museums, the Acre festival, the El-Basha bath-house and more.