In 2008, the Israeli government announced a 20 million shekel (around $6 million US) plan to revamp cycling tourism. Upping the ante, the government wants to put about $30 million into making Israel a cycling destination hotspot.
Cycling tourism is worth billions of dollars in Europe, where lodges and facilities are set up for the eco-friendly sport. And some off-the wall travellers are finding some locations in the Middle East can make ideal cycling holidays too. Despite the fact that you might need to wear a burka in Saudi Arabia, ladies.
Despite the intense summer heat, it virtually doesn’t rain in the Middle East in the summer time, and the lack of bugs – especially mosquitos – allows people to sleep outdoors, even without tents. We’ve blogged about some hotspots for cycling in the Middle East, now let’s look at Israel:
The country’s tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov announced recently a 100 million shekel-plus multi-year plan to promote the cycling industry in Israel. While ten years ago a cyclist on the streets of Tel Aviv would be considered a foreign labourer, every one and his sister are getting out the cycling hot pants these days and heading out in the cities and on the nature trails.
The new government plan for Israel includes the physical infrastructure development of a comprehensive and accessible network of cycling paths, including a national trail that would span the length of Israel – from Eilat to Kiryat Shmona. It will connect population centers with open areas, a range of landscapes and leading places of interest.
Recommended cycling activities in Israel
In line with the decision, the Tourism Ministry in cooperation with the KKL-JNF, the Cycling Association, the Nature and Parks Authority, the Development of the Galilee and the Negev authorities and other ministries and bodies, has developed a multi-year action plan that includes infrastructure development of 4,900 kilometers of varied cycling paths and the accompanying facilities, as well as educational, community and explanatory activities.
These cycling paths will join the existing 600 kilometers of trails and about 1,400 kilometers of paths already budgeted from other sources. The cycling path network and the complementary infrastructure will provide an answer to the requirements of domestic cycling tourism and a basis for developing incoming cycling tourism, according to target markets, levels of difficulty, tour packages and more.
Cycling through the Hula Valley, a fly-way for Africa’s and Europe’s birds.
Says Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov: “The development of a national cycling infrastructure will contribute to enriching the range of tourism products in the periphery and generate momentum for small and medium businesses, while creating new jobs.
“About 80% of all the cycling paths will be developed in the Negev and Galilee and there’s no doubt that this investment will bear fruit both regionally and in terms of its contribution to the economy generally. It’s important to note that creating this infrastructure will also make Israel an attractive destination for cyclists from around the world and a marketing program will also be prepared accordingly.”
The international cycling tourism market is worth billions of dollars a year, with one of the highest growth potentials. About 19 million cycling tourists visit Europe every year, staying in 30,000 lodgings. Put your bike on the plane, train, or bus, and get pedalling. It’s a cheap, healthy and great eco-friendly way to see new parts of the world.
More reading on cycling in the Middle East:
Cycling Hotspots in the Middle East
Great Cappuccinos and Free Bikes for Hire
New Designs and Showers for Urban Cycling
Parents Go for the Taga Hybrid Bike – Stroller