Mayor smoothes waters over minister's comments

Recent comments by new Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov that Eilat has little to offer tourists sparked a storm and angered many residents, but Eilat Mayor Meir Itzhak Halevy believes the remarks were made out of genuine concern, reports Halevy said he spoke with Misezhnikov by telephone on the same evening that the controversial comments were first aired, and he knew the minister "loves the city and made his statements out of a real concern for Eilat." In his comments Misezhnikov added that the city was losing tourists to neighboring Egypt and Jordan. According to the report, Halevy said the minister was echoing complaints made to him by tourists. "Eilat is full of attractions and I am sure that in Aqaba (Jordan) and Taba (Egypt) they are jealous of us," Halevy said. "Apart from this, it is important to remember that there are many people who come to Eilat to rest and who are not really looking for attractions."