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Behind the Headlines the New Face of Tourism

May 3, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The return of Sinai to Egypt last year produced profound changes in the tourist industry in Israel. Tourism did not decline; it naturally relocated from Sinai to other centers, thus changing the character of some of these areas.

Tiberias, a major drawing force due to its location on Lake Kinneret and its famous hot springs became even more popular than it previously had been. Though the war in Lebanon affected the overall tourist numbers last summer, it is felt that the decrease was temporary.

Since 1973, when the hot springs were rebuilt and several hotels and shops were added, Tiberias became an all year round tourist attraction rather than merely a winter resort. Israelis, the largest source of income for the town, visit Tiberias’ hot springs, the Kinneret beaches and attend the summer dance festivals which are held in July and August.


The majority of tourists who visit from abroad are drawn to the holy Christian places, such as Tabgha, Capernaum and bordering regions along the Jordan River, as well as Nazareth and Mt. Hermon. The religious significance of these areas tends to attract many more Christian than Jewish tourists. Thus Tiberias’ largest income providers are Israelis and foreign Christian tourists.

In order to accomodate the increasing numbers of visitors, the town municipality of Tiberias has approved the building of ten new hotels over the next twenty years. In addition an efficiency hotel for private renters is also being built. People pay an initial flat rate and reserve an apartment for one-two weeks each year for an indefinite period.

Two new parking lots for tourists’ use have been built to ease the parking crunch caused by the constant influx of people. Two huge supermarkets are scheduled to open within the next two months. Within the next year the hot springs will be enlarged. Additional tennis courts, a marina, and a mashbir (department store) provided by the Histadrut, and a new concert hall are all in the works.

"People in Tiberias are glad to have all the tourists. Hotels are our industry," said Eli Entebbe town Secretariat. "The government wants Tiberias to be a strong tourist town." The government provides loans for the private hotel builders and in general has been pushing Tiberias to develop its tourist industry.

The hotels employ many Tiverianis, but as Entebbe explained, this industry doesn’t attract the young to return to live in Tiberias after they’ve finished the army and their university studies. There just isn’t enough work for them. Consequently Tiberias is losing the younger population, many of whom come from families who are sixth and seventh generation Tiverianis. As the industry grows, more and more leave.

This employment problem is not unique to Tiberias, it also exists in the adjoining areas of Beit Shean, Migdal Haemek, Nazareth, and Safed. The municipalities of these areas have suggested to the government that industry could be developed at Golani Junction, a central spot for all five towns. This would employ the youth of these towns and allow them to remain in the north.

As of now, the government has not attempted to foster industry at Golani Junction. Instead, Entebbe commented, "the government is continuing to put millions of dollars into the West Bank."

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