Effort launched to save Eilat from economic disaster

Eilat / Photo: Rony Balahsan

Almost half of the workers in the tourism city on the Red Sea were unemployed at the end of April.

The Employment Service and the Eilat Municipality are launching an emergency program to save the city of Eilat, Israel's southernmost city, which has been critically hit by the coronavirus crisis. The rate of unemployment in the city reached 45.6% at the end of April, which compares with a national average of 26%. The reason is that the tourism industry, on which the economy of the city is highly dependent, has shut down completely, and it is not clear when it will reopen.

Apart from the high unemployment rate, in almost a quarter of Eilat's families both spouses are without work, which compares with a national average of 16%. The age of those seeking work in Eilat is higher than the national average. The unemployed mainly fall in the 35-45 age-group.

The program of the Employment Service and the Eilat Municipality has two main thrusts. One is on the supply side, including investment in professional training and dealing with the unemployed. A training center will be set up in the city, offering testing, guidance, and training in technological tools, with an emphasis on remote working. On the demand side, partners will be recruited from the private sector to set up enterprises and infrastructures to create new jobs in the city.

A round table has been set up of all the relevant agencies to deal with the crisis in the city: the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services, the Ministry of Finance, the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel), the National Insurance Institute, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Israel Hotel Association, the Israel Chamber of Independent Organizations and Businesses, employment NGOs, and representatives of the residents.

National Employment Service director Rami Grauer said, "It's important to create jobs in Eilat that are not solely reliant on hotels and tourism, so that the city will have a strong economic base that will prevent the kind of extreme impact that we are seeing now. In other places too we are developing tailor-made programs with the aim of returning hundreds of thousands of Israelis to the workforce."

Eilat mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi said, "The program will help to create employment as rapidly as possible for the unemployed, and will also promote diversification of employment, and it is therefore constructed for both the short an dteh long term."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 19, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Eilat / Photo: Rony Balahsan
Eilat / Photo: Rony Balahsan
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