THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM HAS INVESTED OVER 19 MILLION NIS IN 2011 IN MAINTENANCE AND CONSERVATION OF HOLY SITES – A SIMILAR AMOUNT WILL BE ALLOCATED IN 2012
Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov: „The Ministry of Tourism’s efforts in this field have been strengthened by the establishment of the Rashbi Heritage Company which will bring about an investment of over 27 million NIS in the coming year.”
The Ministry of Tourism has allocated over 19 million NIS toward maintenance and conservation of Jewish holy sites and the ceremonies held in these locations through the National Center for the Development of Holy Sites. The Ministry of Tourism’s investment, which will continue next year as well at a similar investment, is part of an initiative to conserve and maintain Israel’s traditions and improve the tourism product for Israelis and tourists.
The National Center for the Development of Holy Sites, managed by Rabbi Yosef Schweinger, plays an important role in aiding the Ministry of Tourism’s activities to maintain and develop the various religious sites in Israel such as Mt. Zion, the City of David, Rampart’s Walk, Zedekiah’s Cave, the Western Wall and more at an investment of millions of shekel each year.
Throughout 2011, maintenance and conservation activities were performed around Jerusalem at Rachel’s Grave and King David’s Grave which included development of infrastructures, placing railings and more. Similar work was performed in northern Israel at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’ (Rashbi) on Mount Meron which also included the establishment of a national body to take care of security and aesthetics as well as management. This body will be able to accept donations in amounts that were not permitted to date. Additional sites that were refurbished this year include graves of revered rabbis in Biriya Forest, Haifa and Amuka.
In 2012, according to the refurbishment and rehabilitation plan of the National Center for the Development of Holy Sites, the Ministry of Tourism is planning various new projects, including, among others, the Grave of Samuel the Prophet in Jerusalem and the Grave of Rabbi Akiva in Tiberias. Upgrade and rehabilitation activities of the various Holy Sites in Jerusalem will also continue.
In 2011, 800,000 Jewish visitors came to Israel, (24% of the total 3.4 million visitors).
Minister of Tourism, Stas Misezhnikov: „Israeli and international Jewish tourists visiting the Jewish holy sites are important anchors in the Ministry of Tourism’s activities both in Israel and abroad. These activities will continue in the coming years in both the development and reconstruction of the holy sites as well as increasing marketing activities on a national and international level.”