Green is the New Tourism

Published: December 26th 2010
in News » Israel

At Essene Farm, in Even-Sappir near Jerusalem raw-food cuisine is served every Tuesday.
Pic: Israel21c
In the Negev, ecotourists can stay at the Zimmerbus, a unique guest room made out of buses destined for the scrap heap.
Pic: Israel21c

In the Western Galilee, there's Back to Nature via the Bible, an ecological village offering opportunities to learn about medicinal plants and herbs, stomp grapes, grind grain, and crush olives for oil. And at Indigo Guest House, an environmentally mindful B&B, you'll be served meals from locally-grown organic ingredients irrigated with recycled gray water from the lodges.


One of the Lower Galilee's niche ecotourist spots is the HooHa Cyclists House. Here, accommodations and services are geared specifically to those touring Israel atop two-wheelers. And there are bound to be many more of these as the Tourism Ministry begins investing more than NIS 100 million in a 3,000-mile network of new bike paths, including a national trail. Two major cycling paths near and around Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) are under construction.


"This infrastructure will also make Israel an attractive destination for cyclists from around the world and a marketing program will be prepared accordingly," Misezhnikov recently announced.




Adventurous'voluntourists' who want to explore the country's eco-system through an organized program have several options. GoEco, established in 2005, offers a large selection of projects from coral reef conservation in the Red Sea and eco-building in the Arava to wildlife conservation at a biblical nature reserve.


At Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava, voluntourists are housed in straw-bale-and-mud geodesic domes and accompany kibbutzniks in tasks such as organic gardening, alternative/natural building, maintaining nature trails, arranging educational workshops, and working in the Lotan migratory bird reserve.


Eco-tourist sites to visit


Ecologically-minded day trips are another option as Israel invests in new projects such as Ayalon Park's 75-acre recycling plant atop a former garbage dump near Tel Aviv. Visitors can watch household and industrial refuse, garden debris, and corrugated paper as it's transformed into electricity, clean irrigation and washing water, and agricultural fertilizer. In the Visitors Center decorated with recycled art, kids can take part in hands-on workshops.


The Tourism Ministry has invested millions of shekels since the early 1990s in the development of a tourist infrastructure at Lake Agmon in the northern Hula Valley, a critical region for migrating birds and other wildlife. Most recently, the Ministry and Jewish National Fund each invested NIS 700,000 (about $194,000) to construct a southern observation point on the lake. This newest eco-tourist attraction is expected to open within a few months.


This article originally appeared on Israel21c and is reprinted with permission.

Related articles: (Green, Israel, Tourism, Ecotourism, Zimmerbus)

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