WASHINGTON (Mar. 31)
Moshe Kol, Israel’s Minister of Tourism, has announced that tourist resorts would be built at Sharm El Sheikh and Neube, both in the military occupation areas. Mr. Kol is in the United States to raise $20 million in government bonds to finance a government loan program for investors in Israel’s tourist industry. The 7 percent bonds are being sold “to American citizens to help give loans to American investors to build hotels for American tourists,” he said. The tourist facilities at both Sharm El Sheikh and Neube will be rustic, not to say primitive. A U.S. investor is putting some trailers and bungalows and a restaurant that will seat 300 on the spot where Egypt placed the guns that kept the Israelis out of the Gulf of Aqaba. “Two wars started there,” Mr. Kol said. “If we can make it a lovely place, maybe one day there will be a peace conference here, Nasser made it popular. We are giving it a better purpose.”
The bonds, $9 million of which have already been sold, are guaranteed by the government. They are valued at $100 American each, and the minimum purchase is ten bonds. Mr. Kol is here to talk to prospective investors. It is the 12th city on his 13-city tour, which will conclude at the end of this week. Mr. Kol said Israel had 410,000 tourists last year, and expected a 20 per cent increase this year. He said the bombings of the Swiss air and El Al planes had not deterred tourists: “This is the best winter Israel has had since it was born.” He said safety was not a problem for Israeli tourists. “You can walk in Jerusalem day and night. The U.S. has safe borders and Israel has safe cities.” Mr. Kol said that of the 410,000 visitors in 1969. 150,000 of them were from the United States. For Israel, tourism provides the biggest single source of foreign exchange, with 78 percent of tourism earnings remaining in the country.