Eilat: More Than a Vacation Destination
Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Simon recently contacted me expressing interest in moving to Eilat, the holiday resort town on the southern tip of Israel. That interesting request caught my immediate attention and I peppered him with many questions: Are you in the hotel industry? No. Are you an avid scuba diver, windsurfer or sailor? No, no and no. So, what is the allure of Eilat? Simon explained that he works for a start-up firm in travel tech, and the company wants him to open an office in Eilat, a city which is making great strides in this field.
Israel is a trailblazer in the travel technology industry and is home to more than three hundred travel tech startup companies. Due to Israel’s expertise, Booking.com, a world-leading website and search engine for travel and lodging reservations, recently opened a research and development center in Tel Aviv. Although travel tech firms are found across the country, Eilat is gaining traction due to its ranking as Israel’s top travel destination. A vacation oasis on the shores of the Red Sea, Eilat has over 11,000 hotel rooms – followed by Jerusalem with 10,380 rooms and Tel Aviv-Jaffa with 7,900 rooms – and provides an ideal environment for startups to test their products and technologies.
Eilat is also a leader in tourist accessibility. Eilat’s new Ramon Airport, situated ten miles north of the city, will open in early 2019 and offer an impressive new international gateway to southern Israel and the Red Sea. The Ramon Airport is set to initially handle up to two million passengers a year and can be expanded to double its capacity. In addition, Eilat has an international sea port, which hosts cruise ships.
After learning about Eilat’s business appeal, in addition to its renowned tourist industry, I now understood why Eilat is in rapid growth mode, with plans to triple the population from almost 50,000 to 150,0000 residents. The fact that housing prices are lower than in central Israel, coupled with Eilat being a free trade zone - which means that purchases are exempt from the 17% value added tax (VAT) - are significant selling points in attracting young families to the city.
Simon, an observant Jew, needed help to identify the right neighborhood for his family’s religious, social and educational needs. Eilat offers many synagogue options, and the schooling options reflect this wide spectrum of religious diversity, offering a broad array of educational choices from preschool through high school. The city also boasts numerous post-high school programs, including a satellite Ben Gurion University campus as well as a Hesder yeshiva, which combines Judaic studies with military service. The yeshiva is a driving force behind the city’s religious institutions and programs, and many of its alumni hold key positions in the municipality’s educational system and social services programs.
Postscript: We helped Simon find a lovely apartment in the ideal neighborhood for his family, who quickly acclimated to their new surroundings. Like true natives, they have gone nautical and are enjoying sailing and scuba diving lessons in the Red Sea.
Gedaliah Borvick is the founder of My Israel Home (www.myisraelhome.com), a real estate agency focused on helping people from abroad buy and sell homes in Israel. To sign up for his monthly market updates, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.