There are insufficient hotels in Israel, and those that exist are more expensive than the European standard, Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer said Thursday during the OECD tourism conference held in Yerushalayim.
Fischer criticized the preservation and maintenance of tourist sites, a point raised also in the state comptroller’s report on local authorities.
The Bank of Israel governor called for regional cooperation with Egypt and Jordan in tourism, to strengthen the industry. He noted there are amazing sites in those two neighboring countries, and it is possible to visit three states in one trip – a couple of days in each.
He also noted the less positive aspects such as the fear of terror, saying people from outside Israel think the country is less safe than it really is.
Fischer claimed Israel’s tourism potential was a long way from being fulfilled. One of Israel’s advantages, he asserted, was its small size – people can visit Yerushalayim in the morning, tour the north in the afternoon and cover half the state before dinner.
Fischer also invited ornithologists from OECD countries to visit the Hula Valley, known for being on the route of many migrating birds, and trekkers to visit the south, known for its spectacular desert landscapes. He admitted there were difficulties, saying the geopolitical situation was always complex, but added that security was less of a daily concern than it appeared.
Presenting data from a survey of tourism, Fischer said Israel came 36th out of 133 states, noting it could aim higher. Israel’s tourist industry is small compared to its neighbors, he said, expressing his belief that it had great potential to grow and that there were many positive aspects of Israel that must be exploited.
The conference concentrated on “green tourism” and Fischer addressed this issue too. Israel had excellent resources, both natural and cultural, he said, that must be maintained and improved. Israel had a long way to go in safeguarding a clean environment, he claimed, but also noted Israel’s well-developed cycling routes throughout the country. In addition, he stressed the need for raising awareness about environmental issues.