Rivlin visits Dead Sea coronavirus Green Zone belt

The coronavirus cabinet had approved Eilat and the Dead Sea area as green zones effective from November 18.

President Reuven Rivlin is seen visiting the Dead Sea after tourists were allowed to return. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin is seen visiting the Dead Sea after tourists were allowed to return.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Israelis who can afford to pay for a vacation in Eilat or the Dead Sea – vital tourist areas that have been designated by the health authorities as “green zones” – have not exactly been rushing in droves. But they have certainly brought a smile to hoteliers and hotel staffs in these seaside resort destinations, which have been more or less bereft of tourists for almost a year.
Among Israelis who headed for the Dead Sea on Thursday was President Reuven Rivlin – not to enjoy a vacation but to take a close-up look at how tourism was being revived while complying with conditions demanded by the Health Ministry.
Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Tourism Ministry director-general Amir Halevi, MK Eitan Ginzburg and Eilat Mayor Yitzhak Halevi also found their way to the Dead Sea on Thursday. Together with Rivlin, they met with Tamar Regional Council head Nir Vagner, Dead Sea Hotel Association CEO Yael Danieli and Isrotel CEO Lior Raviv.
The coronavirus cabinet had approved Eilat and the Dead Sea area as green zones starting on November 18.
Rivlin welcomed the decision, saying it was akin to providing oxygen for the tourist industry.
Meanwhile, hoteliers in the Galilee were upset that they were not recognized as green zones, citing the external benefits surrounding their premises that would entitle them to be designated as such.
Recognizing that a getaway is good for the soul and certainly contributes to mental health, Rivlin said every Israeli who has the possibility to do so, should take a vacation, especially in Israel. Stressing the importance of giving a boost to domestic tourism, he urged Israelis to take a break and go to Eilat or the Dead Sea.
Rivlin warned vacationers not to ignore the precautions that will help them avoid contracting the coronavirus, adding that the health of the nation is a top priority.
He commended Halevi and Vagner for their determination to revive the tourist industry in their areas while cooperating with the Home Front Command and the various ministries concerned.
Rivlin spoke to hoteliers and vacationers, who told him how delighted they were to be able to get away from the tensions of the lockdown and to enjoy the sun, sea and hotel swimming pool.
Farkash-Hacohen thanked Rivlin for his interest in the industry, adding that it had been a rewarding week despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus. The green zones were a blessing to thousands of unemployed people in the tourist industry, she said, noting that after a long and worrisome hiatus, many could now come back to work.
Referring to Eilat where most of the population is employed in some form of tourism, Farkash-Hacohen said the reopening of hotels was tantamount to the reopening of the city.
In perceiving this ray of light at the end of the tunnel, this was a test for everyone to ensure that the green zones would spread throughout the country so that more hotels and other business enterprises could resume operations, she said. It was essential for everyone to frequently undergo tests to ensure that they did not have coronavirus, she added.
Halevi was pleased by Rivlin’s and Farkash-Hacohen’s presence, which he saw as a sign of encouragement to people engaged in the tourist industry. He voiced appreciation to Health Minister Yuli Edelstein for pushing through the process that enabled the reopening of hotels.
Vagner was equally appreciative.
In Jerusalem, Rivlin’s home city both as president and in private life, there has been a glut of hotel construction, but the hotels are still closed.