In preparation for the influx in tourism to Israel that is expected in the next few years, the Ministry of Tourism said Monday it had received 32 requests for grants to construct or expand hotels.
Out of the 32 requests, 20 were for new hotels and 12 were requests to expand existing ones, said the Ministry. The grants were requested under the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investments which came into force in May 2011.
The Ministry estimated that these hotels would bring about an additional 3,600 hotel rooms at a total investment of 2.4 billion NIS. Within the next few weeks, the various proposals will be examined according to predetermined criteria and priorities, after which the grants will be allocated.
The Ministry noted that Jerusalem, while being a destination for 80 percent of tourists in Israel, suffers severely from a lack of hotel rooms and therefore projects in the city will be given priority. Out of the 32 requests, the Ministry noted, 11 proposals were submitted for hotels in Jerusalem which are expected to add an additional 1,600 rooms. Other proposals submitted were for hotels around the Kinneret, Nazareth, the Galilee, Tiberias, and Haifa, among others.
In 2010, the Ministry of Tourism granted 250 million NIS to various business entrepreneurs (total investment of 1.2 billion NIS). 3,000 hotel rooms are in the planning stages for 2011, with the help of the Ministry of Tourism.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said on Monday that the requests for grants had been submitted from both Israel and abroad, highlighting the great interest individuals and international companies have in the Israel hotel industry. He added that the Ministry must nevertheless act quickly to approve the reform it initiated, which is designed to reduce bureaucratic measures and speed up hotel construction and completion. The result, he said will be not only an increase in hotel rooms, but will also promote competition and a reduction in prices.
The Ministry of Tourism is expected to announce within the coming days an additional track aimed at remodeling old or abandoned hotels as well as converting other buildings such as apartments or offices into hotels.
Both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv recently ranked second and third place, respectively, in the prestigious magazine Travel + Leisure’s list of best cities in the Middle East and Africa.
The Tourism Ministry announced a few weeks ago that tourism to Israel was set to break records in 2011.
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, 262,000 visitors entered Israel in June 2011 (tourists and day visitors) – a record for the month of June with 1 percent more than June 2010 and 25 percent more than June 2009.
An all-time record-high was also recorded in June for incoming tourists who stayed in Israel for more than one night – 228,300 (about 87 percent of all visitors) and an increase of 7 percent over June 2010 and 4 percent over June 2008.