Tourism Ministry expresses optimism for return in spring 2021

Due to the ongoing struggle in tourism, the ministry has created an extensive plan in order to ensure a smooth transition to normalcy upon the end of the pandemic.

Tourists look at a mobile phone as they stand at an observation point overlooking the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City (photo credit: REUTERS)
Tourists look at a mobile phone as they stand at an observation point overlooking the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem's Old City
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Tourism Ministry has expressed optimism for the upcoming spring in terms of a return to normalcy in the tourism sector.

The Tourism Ministry summarized the difficult year of 2020, which has virtually brought a total halt to all tourism in Israel, and has caused great suffering to the culture, tour guide, hospitality, restaurant industry and all related industries. 
In the past year, some 850,000 tourists visited Israel, a drop of 81.3% compared to last year. Consequently, 200,000 families employed in the tourism industry have completely lost their livelihood, along with the many who are not expected to return to the industry. 
Due to the ongoing struggle in tourism, the ministry has created an extensive plan in order to ensure a smooth transition to normalcy upon the end of the pandemic.
Set for the middle of 2021, the plan will focus on marketing, infrastructure development and improving the tourist experience, all of which are subject to approval in the state budget. 
"The past year has dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry. Such a year should be used to strengthen and build infrastructure, work plans and programs that strengthen the industry for the moment when it can reopen. This, alongside concern for the people working in the tourism industry during such a time when their income has been totally decimated," said Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen. 
"Despite the difficulties, we were able to implement significant plans that helped the economy during this period, including the green islands outline, a NIS 300 million grant for hoteliers, early opening of tzimmerim (B&Bs), a touring program with licensed guides, a personal security program in hotels and more. And now we are approaching the new year with new plans," she added. 
"In the next year, we will develop the master plan for the tourism industry, synchronizing between projects and creating a holistic approach at the national level. This, with a change in the implementation of infrastructure projects in an alternative to government companies. We will soon forward the monies for financing projects to the various authorities who have submitted requests."
"We are already working together with the Ministry of Health on an exit plan for the tourism industry. The plan will create certainty, and it will operate under the principle that whoever was most affected in previous times will be among the first to open as we exit lockdown. Together with all this, we are working on a plan to reduce costs that will benefit both owners and consumers. A lot of work still lies ahead of us, we will find the right balance between the economy and the virus and we will give breathing space to the various sectors that have been affected in the industry,” she concluded. 
While the ministry is gearing up for 2021, they have worked to help the struggling industry, which has included the establishment of "green tourist island" in Eilat and the Dead Sea area, providing a NIS 300 million grant for hotels, along with free guided tours in nature reserves, parks and cities. In addition, the ministry worked on overseas marketing, webinars with business partners, infrastructure development, assistance for tour guides, and creating online profiles on government websites for tour guides.