Israel Plans Golf 'Trail'

The Israel Tourism Ministry and the Israel Land Administration have announced plans for a $200 million project that could result in the construction of 16 new golf courses across the country over the next 15 years.

Investing in golf could result in a 20% increase in tourism in Israel, with the average amount of money spent by visitors to the country doubling from $1,000 to $2,000.

Annual golf-related tourism revenues in Europe, the Middle East and Africa now total $2.7 billion. A report published by Oxford Economics on golf tourism found that the average golf tourist spends more than $200 a day and that golf tourism in Europe, the Middle East and Africa generated $4 billion and 60,000 jobs in 2006.

Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov believes that encouraging golf tourism will encourage local and foreign investments. He predicts thousands of golfers will visit Israel each year, helping it compete with nearby nations that have already become golf destinations.

"Developing golf tourism will diversify tourism, encourage high-value local and international investment from a tourism-, commercial-, employment- and regional-development viewpoint," Misezhnikov said.

He expects that "tens of thousands of golf tourists will come to Israel annually and that golf tourism will help Israel compete with other countries in the region, including Egypt, Jordan and the Mediterranean Basin countries, which have long been preferred golf tourism destinations."

Tourism Ministry and Israel Land Administration officials will be investigating sites for the new golf resorts over the next few months. Initial plans include constructing courses in Eilat and the Dead Sea in the south, Tiberias and Hatzor HaGlilit in the north and Savyon and Rishon Lezion in central Israel.