Israel aims to quicken pace of hotel development

Israel Hotels

Appears hotel development in Israel isn't keeping up fast enough. New legislation could help speed up the pace.

According to Haaretz, the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee is deliberating over legislation aimed to help the country’s tourism industry by speeding up construction of hotels and other private sector tourism facilities.

The bill would designate private sector tourism works as critical “national infrastructure” projects, thus allowing hotel developers and others to bypass ordinary planning committees and get building approval from special committees that work much more quickly.

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A hotel project can reportedly take 10 years to develop, from the time the land is acquired. The fast-track approvals would only be open to developers building four or more hotel projects simultaneously or a single property of 500 or more rooms.

The proposed law would also allow up to 20 percent of land zoned for hotel development to be given to residential construction.

Opposition

The proposed legislation has drawn some ire. Unlike other infrastructure projects, which must secure the backing of the prime minster, finance minister and interior minister before they are designated as national infrastructure projects, under the proposed legislation, hotels and the like will only need the tourism minister’s approval.

“It is a mechanism without any checks and balances that would allow ‘deals’ directly between the minister and private developers, giving developers benefits in nontransparent ways and without any hearing,” Prof. Eran Feitelson, from the Advanced School for Environmental Studies at the Hebrew University, told Haaretz.

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