In Eilat, a golf course project in the desert to develop tourism

The number of golf courses in Israel will double in the coming years with a new set of greens and bunkers planned in the desert around the southern resort of Eilat.

The only 18-hole golf course in Israel is located in Caesarea. It was built in 1961 by the Rothschilds, who commissioned the great American golf designer, Pete Day, as this “worldwide tourist gem”. He has since returned to update the course. A second nine-hole course was built next to the main track in Kayseri. But another nine-hole stadium in Gash, near Netanya, was closed.

In early September, the Ministry of Tourism and the Israel Land Authority informed Times of Israel They are in the process of issuing a public tender for the construction of a new golf course and hotel north of Eilat. According to Hezy Magen, president of the Golf Sports Association, local golfers were involved in the discussions.

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The total area of ​​the project is about 1,229,000 square meters and the successful developer will be required to build a residential and commercial space near the stadium. There are plans to add 560 new hotel rooms, a shopping complex, a golf course covering nearly 600,000 square metres, and an area adjacent to a golf academy.

California, Nevada, and Arizona have already demonstrated the potential of golf courses in their desert landscapes. With this project, the Negev will enter the game.

The director of the Israel Land Authority, Jacob Quint, has seen a growing demand for hotels and leisure activities in Israel, and believes that this project will not only enhance Eilat as a vacation destination for international tourists and citizens, but will also create a “one-of-a-kind golf resort with exclusive décor” that will be recognised. all over the world. Promoters have until May to submit their bids and the winner will sign a six-year contract.

In 2009, the then Minister of Tourism, Stas Mezhnikov, identified golf as a way to attract higher-spending tourists to the country. Working with the Israel Land Authority, the Tourism Ministry planned to build 16 new golf courses across the country, over 15 years at a cost of NIS 760 million, and estimates the investment could increase tourist numbers by 20%. At that time, total golf-related tourism in Europe, the Middle East and Africa was estimated at more than NIS 9 billion. The land in Eilat, the Dead Sea, Tiberias, Savion, and Rishon Lezion was in progress. But the plans were quietly dropped.

The golf tourism industry continues to grow – NIS 15 billion last year and NIS 16.5 billion projected for this year. Golf Tourists travel all over the world to play on different courses. They often stay longer than other tourists and therefore spend more. But they have a choice of about 33,000 golf courses located around the world.

Golf has always been more than just a game, some say it’s no coincidence that California’s Silicon Valley has 32 golf courses. Golf courses are places where business deals are struck, and young Israeli businessmen may find that an additional golf course in Israel can be a venue for new international deals.

Ten million tourists by 2030, this is the ambition shown by the Ministry of Tourism. The budget for tourism infrastructure this year amounted to 300 million shekels. Seeking to attract new visitors and diversify what Israel has to offer, golf is back on the agenda.

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