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Plans to build $15m amusement park, hotel complex in Negev move forward

Tourism Ministry issues tenders for ambitious building project near Beersheba that city officials say will deliver a tourist boost and jobs to the country’s south

A visualization of the 'Negev Park,' Israel's planned new entertainment center near Beersheba. (Courtesy / Tourism Ministry)
A visualization of the 'Negev Park,' Israel's planned new entertainment center near Beersheba. (Courtesy / Tourism Ministry)

Plans for a large recreational park in the Negev in southern Israel, an expected tourism hotspot likened to Israel’s answer to EuroDisney, are inching closer to the construction pipeline after the Israeli Tourism Ministry invited investors to bid on developing the project.

Dubbed the Negev Park, the planned amusement center was first conceived a decade ago with the aim to deliver a major tourism boost to the southern Negev region. Currently, the 7,000-dunam (10,763-square-foot) plot near Beersheba set aside for the scheme hosts Israel’s largest motor-racing track and a civil aviation center, which also delivers extreme parachuting activities.

Beersheba Mayor Rubik Danilovich said the construction of Negev Park will include hotels, tourist “villages,” water attractions like wave pools, sophisticated rides, as well as shopping and dining options.

There is also a wider ambition to build a new airport nearby to position the park as a major tourist destination for overseas visitors, according to the plans. Israel is hoping to attract some 10 million tourists a year by 2030 and has been moving to expand its tourist offerings.

The Negev Park will be located near Beersheba and Kibbutz Hatzerim as a joint venture by the Beersheba Municipality, Bnei Shimon Council and Israel Land Authority, which will be responsible for delivering the public infrastructure surrounding the park.

Speaking ahead of an international conference in Tel Aviv to showcase Israel’s tourist investment opportunities, Danilovich said he believes “the Negev metropolis is becoming Israel’s new ‘in-demand area’ in terms of tourism, recreation and leisure.”

Bnei Shimon Regional Council head Nir Zamir described the project as “realizing the potential of the Negev… we have a huge space for leading a unique tourism unlike any other in Israel and we are happy about the opportunity to bring the tourists to our region to get to know one of the most beautiful places in the country.”

The next step, from planning to construction, is likely to take at least four years, according to the stakeholders. The project has a budget of NIS 50 million ($14.5 million).

If all goes according to plan, the project will create hundreds of jobs in an area that has struggled to attract businesses and opportunities, compared to Israel’s central region.

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