The Dead Sea towards sunset
The Dead Sea towards sunset Hana Levi Julian

Israel's Tourism Ministry is planning to upgrade the hotel strip area at the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Recommendations from a committee formed to explore the issue included development of the region between “Hamei Tzohar” – the Tzohar hot springs – and Ein Bokek.

Among the projects under consideration are construction of hotel rooms at various standards, architecture “that reflects the desert landscape” and development of a boardwalk along the shore, ministry officials said.

“This is an opportunity to design the region for generations,” commented Tourism Ministry Stas Misezhnikov.

“We have made a significant step in the rehabilitation of the Dead Sea region and the tourism facilities in the area. According to the schedule, within nine months a new plan will be presented with the suggested design for hotels and tourism in the area.”

Senior representatives from the hotel and tourism industries met with architects and engineers to discuss development of the region following the government decision to accept recommendations of the Tourism Minister and Minister of Environmental Protection to rehabilitate the region.

A total of NIS 859 million is to be invested in the effort over the next five years, officials said.

The Dead Sea Preservation Government Company (DSPGC), together with a national interdisciplinary team has been placed in charge of creating a comprehensive plan to be submitted to the Minister of Tourism.

DSPGC CEO Shimon Daniel said the plan will include upgrades for existing hotels as well as reconstruction of new ones. The plan also focuses on creating attractions outside of the hotels, such as restaurants, shopping centers, and more, he noted. A total of 12 to 16 new hotels are slated to be built in the region over the next 10 years, according to the development plan, with 4,000 additional hotel rooms.

The Dead Sea was the most crowded leisure destination in Israel in 2011, with some 857,000 visitors during the year.

Data published by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2011 showed that hotel occupancy at the Dead Sea averaged at 77 percent, as compared with 75.3 percent in Tel Aviv, and 67 percent in Eilat, and with a consistent growth rate of 43 percent over the past five years.

Hotel revenue at the Dead Sea reached NIS 1.096 billion in 2011. As part of the Law to Encourage Capital Investment, the Tourism Ministry has allocated NIS 9 million in grants for entrepreneurs who wish to develop or expand hotels in the Dead Sea region, as specific in accordance with the conditions for the grant. The deadline for submission of proposals is August 15, 2012.