Nice reef-erral

Eilat high on NY Times’ list of top destinations for 2019

In Israel's first-ever appearance on annual travel list, paper hails diving opportunities and luxury resorts in 'newly accessible' resort city

An aerial view of the Israeli resort city of Eilat on October 21, 2015. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The “newly accessible” resort town of Eilat was rated one of 2019’s top travel destinations by The New York Times, which featured Israel for the first time ever in its annual list of recommended places to visit.

The annual list published Wednesday placed Eilat in sixth place, highlighting Eilat’s coral reef diving opportunities and luxury hotels.

With the opening of the Ramon Airport in southern Israel later this month, the Times said tourists from around the world will finally get a direct route to the “prismatic waters” of the Red Sea resort city.

It was the first time an Israeli location was featured on the Times’ annual “52 places to go” list since it began in 2008.

A scuba diver checks coral reefs in the Red Sea off the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat, June 12, 2017. (AFP/ Menahem Kahana)

The Times said that with the planned nonstop flights from Europe and the opening of several new luxury resorts in Eilat, Israel was gearing up for a large influx of tourists when it hosts the 2019 Eurovision song contest.

Earlier this month, the Transportation Ministry said the Ramon International airport would be inaugurated on January 21.

The airport is in Timna, some 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Eilat and near the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

Its website says the airport will initially be able to handle up to 2 million passengers annually, but will be able to expand to a capacity of 4.2 million by 2030.

A file photo shows construction at the new Ramon International Airport, in Timna, southern Israel, on January 2, 2018. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The new airport is named for Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon who was killed in the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster and his son Assaf, who was killed in a IAF training exercise in 2009. Wife and mother Rona Ramon mother died of cancer last month.

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