INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE RIGHTS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: TOURISM MINISTRY INVESTED NIS 6.5 MILLION IN MAKING ACCESSIBLE TENS OF TOURIST AND NATURE SITES FOR TOURISTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS AND PRODUCED A BOOKLET OF ACCESSIBLE TOURS IN JERUSALEM
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "It is important for us to properly represent people with disabilities in order to make it easier for them to relax and enjoy their holiday like everyone else. The Tourism Ministry under my leadership will continue to make tourism sites accessible."
Tourism Minister Director-General Amir Halevi: "In the tender to select a company for rating hotels in Israel, we determined that the higher the degree of accessibility in a hotel, the higher the rating. These are steps that are designed to increase the accessibility of tourist sites to all sectors of the population, regardless of disabilities."
The Tourism Ministry attaches great importance to making tourist sites in Israel accessible to visitors with disabilities. In the last two years, the ministry has invested about NIS 2.5 million out of an overall investment of NIS 6.5 million in the development of accessible tourist sites including, among others, tens of nature resorts, museums and heritage, historical and religious sites.
Tourists and visitors planning their trip to Israel can now enjoy a wide range of accessible trails, and can also consult with a color brochure that details all the sites that are accessible for tourists with disabilities.
Last month, the Tourism Product Administration in the Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Development Authority published a color brochure detailing five accessible tours of the Old City. These tours will enable visitors with accessibility needs to experience Jerusalem's religious and historical sites.
The tours include:
- From Jaffa Gate to Zion Gate
- The Jewish Quarter
- Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period
- The Temple Mount Compound
- The Via Dolorosa
In each tour detailed information is provided regarding the specific accessibility at the sites, including where the assistance of a helper is needed. Some of the tours require advance booking and reservations to provide the necessary facilities for accessibility, including the use of accessible elevators and other particular arrangements specific to the site.
The booklet is available free of charge at the Israel Government Tourist Office at the Jaffa Gate in the entrance to the Old City or online at
flashbooks/nl/Jerusalem%20%E2% 80%93%20The%20Old%20City% 20Accessible%20Tours/html/ index.html#/1/
In 2012, the Tourism Ministry produces a 22-page full color booklet in English entitled: “Accessible Israel” (http://goisrael.com/other/
flashbooks/all/ accessibleisraelenglish/index. html)
The brochure, written by an experienced tour guide who specializes in tours for people with special needs, offers the disabled traveler a wide range of tour routes in the north, center and south of Israel, as well as in Jerusalem. For each tour, there is a historical introduction and useful information on each site, including how to get there and disabled access at the site. An easy-to-read legend provides information on whether the route is accessible to the following: sight impaired; wheelchairs; those with difficulty walking; baby carriages and the hearing impaired.
The varied routes include:
- Around the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee
- The Gilboa region
- Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve
- Tel Aviv, including the Palmach Museum and the Tel Aviv Port
- The Old City of Jerusalem
- Mount Herzl and Yad Vashem
- Border Observation Point in the Negev
- Ein Feshka Nature Reserve and Qumran on the Dead Sea
The ministry runs a specialist course for licensed tour guides on the subject of accessible tourism. The ministry's website is also available with relevant information in A2 format for the sight-impaired.
The ministry recently organized a tour, the first of its kind, along those sections of the Gospel Trail that have been made accessible for tourists with disabilities, including Mount Precipice, Keshet forest, Kfar Kanna and the Wedding Church, Tabgha and Capernaum.
Sites made accessible by the Tourism Ministry include, among others:
- Rosh Hanikra - special bridge for wheelchair accessibility to the site
- Atlit - elevator for access to the different levels of the boat exhibition; paths and guides for the hearing-impaired.
- Masada - wheelchair accessible throughout the site, in the museum, guiding etc. Includes different models of the site for the blind.
- Hurshat Tal - wheelchair accessible paths, parking lots, bathrooms and picnic areas
- Latrun - elevator for access to the viewing levels and observation point
- Ein Shemer - Exhibits in the museum for the hearing impaired and wheelchair accessible throughout.
- Beit Shean - Accessibility for the sound and light show.Photo provided by Israel Tourism Ministry
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