Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Tiberias Tourist Industry: "Tourism instead of local"s


Too many Israeli mayors only look at the money tourism ships in, instead of taking the locals and their needs seriously. Thousands of tourists are an extremely import industry for cities like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Eilat. But also smaller towns love to earn millions and do anything in order to get the tourists into their hotels. Example: The small town of Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret) in northern Israel.

After a year and a couple of months I was visiting Tiberias last week, and there were two things I noticed: 1. The small old city right down at the lake includes many old houses. A lot of them have just turned into ruins no one is taking care of. Tiberias has never been a place for great investors and the town's present mayor apparently prefers building more tourists sites instead of preserving old houses from a past which seems to be forgotten. Today, everyone just sees the money. The main road downtown, Hagalil Street, got a new outdoor shopping mall including pillars, a roof and benches. I admit that this looks great but how about investing in housing for the local population ?

2. The unemployment rate is extremely high and there is no light at the tunnel at sight. In the past, former mayor Moshe Zahar took care of the Tverianim (inhabitants of Tiberias) for many centuries. However, the town's present mayor Zohar Oved has more become a symbol of corruption than taking care of the local's needs. Tiberias depends on tourism and needs money. It doesn't seem to bother the mayor that the town's market is filthy and looks like a garbage dump. No one is creating jobs and various hotels are not able to provide sufficient employment. On the contrary, as many hotels employ Druze cleaning staff. 

Old houses have turned into ruins

The old city is located around the lake whereas the new city is built upon the hills nearby. You either climb up to every single street or you take the bus.

The Sea of Galilee (Kinneret).

The brandnew shopping shopping street design in Hagalil Street.

Downtown Tiberias - Hagalil Street

Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke

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