Israel’s government met in Eilat on Sunday to discuss a proposal to advance plans to further develop Eilat and the surrounding region, overhaul aging infrastructure and to promote the area as a growing tourism destination.

The plan includes development of the coastal strip, construction of a convention center, scenic lookouts, construction of attractions and upgrading “Timna Park”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of plans to develop a direct rail link between Eilat and the center of the country.

Eilat Mayor Meir Halevi thanked the prime minister and spoke of the need to develop infrastructure in Eilat since it is situated in an important location as the southern entrance to the Jewish state as well as a top tourist destination.

With regard to tourism, the proposal states that “in order to increase tourism demand for Eilat and the Eilot region and to make the urban area and Eilot region a preferred tourist destination for overseas tourism, [the government[ must strengthen Eilat’s status as a leading tourism city, improve tourism infrastructure for Eilat and Eilot region, improve the tourist experience and develop tourism as a growth engine.”

The proposal discusses, among other issues, the closure of Sde Dov Airport and the closure of the old Eilat airport. “The closure of two airports that mainly serve the city of Eilat has created, in the short term, a situation of uncertainty and urgency in the need for a government plan to deal with the consequences, especially given that 90% of the city’s employees Eilat are directly or indirectly dependent on tourism. The program will address challenges relevant to the tourism industry in Eilat and Eilot, work to reduce gaps in various areas, including health services in the region, and address the employment situation in the region and improve the level of services in a variety of areas.”