You first heard it here on Green Prophet a few months ago – the Israeli Ministry of Tourism is spearheading initiatives to promote eco-friendly, green bicycle tourism. You may also remember that it announced in August that it would be allocating 100 million shekels towards developing the field (which, ahem, is not the number that appears in the title of this post). But have no fear – 100 million shekels have been allocated overall and 20 million will be invested in the first five years (2009-2013).
According to Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila, “the Tourism Ministry is leading the way in promoting the cycling tourism industry with the objective of turning it into an essential component in the leisure and entertainment culture of Israel.”
The Ministry of Tourism has already got the wheels turning (so to speak) on this project and an interim report on the project was recently presented. The report includes plans to:
Plan and lay cycling paths in central Israel, the Galilee and the Negev in order to turn cycling tourism into an essential part of what Israelis do during their free time. These areas also have potential for economic and tourism development.
Establish an Israel Cycling Trail that spans 1200 kilometers from northern to southern Israel, with additional regional paths branching off.
Open bike paths within the next year in northern Israel (for example, a 130 kilometer bike path circling the Sea of Galilee as well as paths in the Acre and Krayot areas), in central Israel (for example, along the Yarkon, Ayalon, and Alexander Rivers), and in Jerusalem.
Minister Avraham-Balila also noted that these new paths would be laid with consideration for nature preservation.
Read more about cycling and eco tourism in Israel:: Cycling Through Israeli Wine and Biblical History, The Cycling Nightlife in Jerusalem, Tour Guide Jared Golfarb Explores the Eco-Wonders of Israel, and Israel’s Tourism Ministry Going Green for 2009