A five-year plan aims to leverage the considerable tourism assets of Galilee, Negev and West Bank. Program homes in on Israel’s unrealized potential from hosting conventions, exhibitions
The strategic plan for encouraging economic growth in outlying parts of the country – the West Bank, the north and the Negev – called for each of these regions to develop their own brand of tourism. For the West Bank it is the events of the Bible, for the northern Galilee medicine and nature, and for the south the desert and the resort town of Eilat.
The program was developed by Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard University, together with the Kohelet Forum think tank and Knesset member Nir Barkat (Likud), with the aim of making these areas more attractive to business, investors and residents over the next 30 years and help disperse Israel’s population out of the center of the country.
“According to forecasts, by the time Israel is marking its 100th anniversary, its population will be double – 17 million citizens. The growing congestion in the center of the country could lead to the collapse of all the State of Israel into Gush Dan [the country’s central cities, including Tel Aviv] while Israel’s peripheries remain weak,” Michal Shalem, the CEO of the organization Israel Grows that helped design the program, told The Marker.
To develop the program, a team met with mayors and other officials from the area with the aim of leveraging assets, in particular in tourism. In the Jordan Valley town of Beit She’an, for instance, they meet with Mayor Jackie Levy to explore developing tourism packages centered on its Roman ruins. In Safed the focus was on festivals and medical tourism based on its hospital and new medical school.
“Prof. Porter is the father of city and regional competitive advantage in the world,” said Shalem. His 18 books include “Competitive Advantage of Nations” and he did work for the city of Jerusalem when Barkat was mayor.
“The idea is to research a certain area, using a very systematic methodology, and investigate what are its advantages, the economic factors that characterize it and identify business clusters with potential to grow GDP and the number of workplaces,” she explained.
From Haaretz Israel News. Full article here.