You’ll see signs of sustainable tourism everywhere among Israel’s myriad natural and historical wonders. And thanks to the government decision to encourage and help fund projects that meet environmentally friendly standards, the marvels you enjoy today will be protected in the future, as Israel strives to maintain good practice in sustainable tourism.
At the Israel Nature and Parks Authority’s Hai Bar reserves you’ll see biblical animals flourishing once again, among them deer, oryx, owls and ostriches. They are only a fraction of the amazing range of fauna, not to mention flora, with which Israel has been blessed due to its location on the nexus of three continents. This location has also made Israel’s a bird-watcher’s paradise, where you’ll thrill at the hundreds of thousands of winged visitors that fill the skies during spring and fall migrations.
The popularity of bird-watching and other nature pursuits has been a boon to rural tourism, especially owner-managed accommodations adjacent to homes on farms and in villages. Thus, whether your window frames pristine desert vistas in the south or the green expanses of the well-watered north, you’ll enjoy the added value of getting to know your hosts, a number of whom specialize in alternative-health and other natural pursuits. And you’ll find hiking trails, cycling routes, and heritage sites literally in your front yard. In addition to local trails, you can traverse the entire country on foot via the Israel Trail. A national Israel Bike Trail is also in the offing.
In keeping with the principles of good practice, community involvement is a byword, particularly visible in the scenic and history-rich Ramat Menashe region in the Carmel foothills, whose inhabitants are working energetically toward recognition as a UNESCO Biosphere.
The Dead Sea, whose arid shores are interspersed with oases and antiquities, is a unique ecotourism destination. The vision for its sustainable future is shared by Israel and Jordan, both of which border the mineral-rich and beneficial waters of this lake at the lowest place on earth.
As you follow the Negev’s Incense Route – Nabatean cities in the Desert, one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Israel, you’ll walk amazed among the remnants of an ancient culture at home in the desert. The Tourism Ministry works closely with NGOs to responsibly manage these and all of Israel’s historical gems, ensuring that visitors will take pleasure in them for generations to come. One such site is Beit She’an National Park with its biblical, Roman and Byzantine antiquities, which has been featured in the World Tourism Organization’s Compilation of Good Practices bulletin.
Not only are Israel’s ancient streets, markets and buildings preserved, so are those that are “merely” a century or two old! Heritage treasures in the hearts of Jerusalem, Acre and Nazareth, among other cities, are being lovingly rehabilitated.
Israel is proud of two elements of sustainability that it pioneered – solar energy and ample public transportation. In fact, you can reach most of Israel’s attractions by public bus.
For more information on sustainability and ecotourism in Israel: www.ecotourism-israel.com; www.birds.org.il; www.parks.org.il; www.birdingisrael.com; www.aspni.org