JERUSALEM, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- A second and third reading of an amendment to the Planning and Building Law was passed in the Knesset on Monday, which is set to revolutionize the conversion of buildings into hotels and add dozens more hotels in Israel, sources from the Ministry of Tourism of Israel said Tuesday.
The move is expected to increase competition in the hotel sector and lead to lower prices, according to the Ministry.
The amendment gives the Local Planning and Building Committee the authority to approve the conversion of buildings designated for commerce, offices and workshops into hotels. This means a dramatic shortening of the process of converting buildings into hotels, said the Ministry.
Until now, in order to convert the designation of a building to hotel use, it was necessary to make a request to the local committee and then the regional committee, a time-consuming process.
The Ministry of Tourism gives entrepreneurs a grant of up to 33 percent of the cost of converting buildings into hotels throughout the country, with the exception of Tel Aviv and Herzliya, said the Ministry.
"In light of the record-breaking incoming tourism figures and the upward trend that has continued for more than a year, we anticipate that many property owners will see the great business potential in conversion to hotel use," said the Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
"This initiative joins the many others that the Tourism Ministry has spearheaded in the last two years, in order to ease the process for entrepreneurs and increase the supply of accommodation options in Israel, which will in turn lead to reduced prices and increased demand," the minister said.
The Ministry of Tourism anticipates a significant response to this new amendment, both by property owners and entrepreneurs and by those local authorities interested in developing the business economy in their area.
Figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel show that during the Jan.-Nov. period of this year the number of tourists (including day visitors) reached almost 3.6 million, up about 27 percent from a year ago. Chinese tourists to Israel (including day visitors) reached 1.1 million during this period.