The Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry of Israel, alongside the Tourism Ministry, are investing NIS 60 million in a campaign to strengthen eco-tourism in the country’s rural areas. Launching the plans this year, the two ministries will jointly operate the program for five years, the Agriculture Ministry said. Out of the NIS 60m. budget, the ministries will be designating NIS 25m. worth of grants to strengthen tourism infrastructure in the rural communities – with the goal of improving appearance, signage, tourism businesses and public seating areas. “Increasing cooperation with the Tourism Ministry to strengthen tourism in rural areas will enrich vacation experiences and will ensure better levels of service to vacationers,” said Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir. “Communities of the periphery will bolster their economies thanks to increased tourist traffic and a diversification of resident employment.” An additional NIS 25m. will be allocated toward establishing campgrounds and developing sites fit to house RVs and trailers that tourists may bring with them, the Agriculture Ministry said. Also critical to the program will be the promotion of regional projects such as an increased presence of bike trails and panoramic lookouts, the ministry said. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to “transform rural villages into an attractive center for visitors and tourists,” while enabling the residents to increase their livelihoods, according to the ministries. The decision as to which communities, specifically, will receive the financial support from the two ministries will be determined by a support committee dedicated to the subject, said Ruti Frum Aricha, director of the Agriculture Ministry’s planning authority. “This agreement stems from a desire to diversify and increase sources of income for residents of communities in the periphery, and in order to highlight the agricultural and environmental resources in these communities,” she said.



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