Eilat Swings With A Planned Desert Golf Course As Tourism Expands In Israel

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.

There is the only 18-hole golf course in Israel Caesarean section. It was built in 1961 by the Rothschild family, which brought leading American golf designer, Pete Day, to the world-class course. He has since come back to give the course an update. A second nine-hole court was built alongside the main field in Caesarea. But another nine-hole stadium in Ge’ash, near Netanya in central Israel, has been closed.

In early September, the Tourism Ministry and the Israel Lands Authority told The Times of Israel they were launching a public tender for the new golf course and hotel in northern Eilat. According to Hezy Magen, president of the golf association, local golfers took part in the discussions.

The total development area is approximately 1,229 acres (1,229,000 square metres, 300 acres) and the winning bidder will be required to build some residential and commercial space alongside the stadium. The intent is to add 560 new hotel rooms, a shopping complex, a golf course covering approximately 600,000 square meters (6,458,346 square feet), and space for an adjacent golf academy.

The states of California, Nevada, and Arizona are already showing the potential of this desert landscape golf course. With this project, the Negev will enter the game.

Yaakov Quint, director of the Israel Land Authority, sees a growing demand for both hotels and leisure activities in Israel, and believes that this development will not only enhance Eilat as a resort for international and domestic tourists, but also create a “unique, globally recognized golf resort with a high landscape value.” Developers have until May to submit their proposals and the winner will sign a six-year development contract.

Then-Minister of Tourism, Stas Mezhnikov, identified golf as a way to attract high-spending tourists to the country in 2009. Working with the Israel Land Authority, the Tourism Ministry planned an exit 16 new golf courses across Israel, over 15 years at a cost of 760 million shekels ($200 million), in the belief that the investment could increase tourist numbers by 20%. Total golf tourism at that time across Europe, the Middle East and Africa was estimated at $2.7 billion (more than NIS 9 billion). The courses of Eilat, Dead Sea, Tiberias, Savion, and Rishon LeZion were in preparation. Then the plans were quietly shelved.

The golf tourism industry has keep growing – $4.44 billion last year, with $4.8 billion expected this year (NIS 15 billion to NIS 16.5 billion in 2022). The so-called golf tourists travel around the world to play different courses. They often stay in places longer than other tourists, and therefore spend more. But they have an estimated 33,000 golf courses located around the world to choose from.

Golf has always been about Much more than the game itself. Some say it’s no accident that there are 32 golf courses in California’s Silicon Valley. Golf courses are the places where business deals are done, and entrepreneurs in Israel can find that an additional Israeli golf course could be a place for international deals.

Ten million tourists by 2030 is the stated ambition of the Ministry of Tourism. The tourism infrastructure budget for this year is $85 million (NIS 300 million), and in looking at how to attract new visitors, and diversify what Israel can offer them, golf is back on the national agenda.

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