Record tourism has prompted proposals for eight new hotels in Israel and the expansion of 12 others. Jerusalem remains the center of attraction.
Building proposals amounting to 2.4 billion shekels ($700 million) for 3,600 hotel rooms have been submitted to the Tourism Ministry.
Tourism has hit new records and is expected to increase in the next few years, aggravating the current shortage of hotel rooms if new construction does not take place. Jerusalem, which is visited by 80 percent of foreign tourists, suffers from the most severe shortage in rooms in peak seasons.
The Tourism Ministry is funding 20 percent of the cost for hotels, except in the capital, where it will grant 26 percent of expenditures.
The 32 requests for new hotel rooms were submitted this week, the deadline set according to the new Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investments.
Eleven proposals were submitted for hotels in Jerusalem, which are expected to add an additional 1,600 rooms. Other proposals submitted were for hotels to be built mostly in the North: around the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Nazareth, the Galilee, Tiberias and Haifa.
In 2010, projects worth 1.2 billion shekels ($350 million) for 3,000 hotel rooms were approved and are now in the planning stages.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov said he will propose that the regional preference map for tourism include Eilat, the Lower Galilee, as well as HaMaayanot Valley and the nearby city of Beit She’an, next to the Jordan Valley.
The current list includes the Negev, the Upper and Western Galilee, the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, Netanya and Haifa.
The ministry also intends to remodel abandoned hotels and convert apartments and offices to hotels.