Survey: Public believes Negev's future is promising

But majority rejects idea of living in the Negev, with 64% of people asked "certainly not" willing to moving there.

Negev great 224.88 (photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Negev great 224.88
(photo credit: Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
While 70 percent of Israelis think the Negev has a promising future, only 16% said they would consider moving there themselves, a survey released Monday reveals.
The survey was conducted by Market Watch in advance of the annual Negev Conference, which is taking place in Beersheba’s Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, and will focus on the future of the Negev. The conference will be attended by cabinet ministers, MKs, business leaders and journalists.
Market Watch asked 400 people who live outside the Negev their opinions on the region and the reasons for and against relocating there. A large majority of the people surveyed (80%) said they were not interested in moving at all. Of those who said they would, only one percent named the Negev as their destination.
The survey asked the people who said they weren’t considering a move, if hypothetically they would be willing to move to the Negev. The answer was a resounding “certainly not” from 64% and “probably not” from 17%.
Ten percent said they might consider moving there and 6% said they would definitely consider moving there.
When asked what words came to mind first when hearing the word “Negev,” 44% of the people asked said “desert and wilderness.” The second most frequent response was “hot” (34%) followed by “sand” (12%).
Further down the list were things like Ben-Gurion (6%), Beduin (5%) and camels (2%).
When asked why they wouldn’t want to move to the Negev, the main reasons people cited were: distance from family (27%), shortage of employment opportunities (24%), content with their current location (19%), age (13%), weather (10%), population (5%) and lack of entertainment (2%).
The problems people perceived about the Negev, in descending order, were: lack of jobs, distance from the center, the heat, low quality of life, Beduin, public transportation, lack of water, lack of entertainment, low education levels, culture, dryness, crime, security and shortage of population.
When asked what, nonetheless, might make the Negev attractive, the first thing people mentioned was the tranquility of the region (20%), followed by not crowded (16%), beautiful scenery (12%), clean air (11%), good weather (8%) and low prices (6%). Other reasons people gave were: the population, distance from the center, hiking spots, Ben-Gurion University, closeness to nature and camels.
Among the people who would consider moving to the Negev, 14% said they would move to Beersheba, 13% said they would move to a kibbutz or a moshav, 6% said they would move to Arad and 5% said they would move to Eilat.
Mitzpe Ramon, Dimona and Yeroham received 4%, 3%, and 2% respectively.
When asked to name attractions in the Negev, 57% of respondents said they could not think of any. Of those that could, 16% mentioned Eilat, 14% mentioned the Dead Sea and 13% remembered the Ramon Crater.
Other attractions noted were the Alpaca farms (5%); Sde Boker (4%); the Air Force Museum (4%) and Masada (3%).
The survey found that despite the iffy reputation the Negev has at the moment, people are overwhelmingly optimistic about its future. A full 70% said they thought the Negev definitely had a future.
Two of the keynote speakers at the conference are men who share the public’s belief in the future of the Negev. One is  Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom and the other is a former holder of the post, President Shimon Peres.
Other speakers include Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Housing Minister Ariel Atias, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (a former president of Ben-Gurion University);  Bank Hapoalim chairman Yair Sarousi and Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich.
The conference includes three main sessions: one on employment and business opportunities in the Negev, another on bringing 300,000 more Jews to the region by 2020 and the third on the civilian response to the IDF’s moving several major bases to the South.

“The Negev is now where it longed to be for years,” said Shalom priorto the conference. “The priorities have changed. More resources arebeing invested in the development of the Negev, the Arava and the Southin general and they contribute to its strength.
“The vision I proposed when I entered office, bringing 300,000 newresidents to the Negev by 2020, is taking shape,” he continued.  “Plansto strengthen and encourage the existing population, development ofadditional sources of income and development of culture and leisure arealready under way on the ground. More and more novel andreality-shifting projects are taking place under the direction of theNegev and Galilee Development Ministry that will exploit the region’snatural advantages.”