By Anav Silverman
Tazpit News Agency
Jordan’s rate of unemployment is high in the country’s south. But a proposal by the Israeli government is expected to help alleviate some of that unemployment. The Israeli cabinet on Sunday, June 29, approved a proposal to employ up to 1,500 Jordanian workers in hotels in Eilat.
According to the proposal, the workers would be day workers who return to Jordan at the end of the working day and would be employed in cleaning, dishwashing and room service in Eilat hotels. The proposal aim to solve the manpower crisis in Eilat hotels, which is expected to increase during the peak of the summer tourism season.
The Israeli Tourism Ministry also noted that the arrangement will contribute to the relationship between Israel and Jordan, which signed a peace treaty in 1994.
Tourism Minister, Dr. Uzi Landau stated that: “We have decided to advance the issue of work visa approvals for Jordanian workers in Eilat out of a desire to strengthen the hotel industry. There is a serious crisis in manpower in Eilat hotels that will only intensify as the summer peak season approaches.”
“This crisis could significantly damage the Eilat tourism industry, harming the income and jobs of tens of thousands of families, primarily from the less affluent strata of society. The importance of the tourism industry is in its ability to create jobs that lead to reduced economic and social gaps. An approval of the proposal will provide an answer to the labor shortage and I am convinced that the process will even strengthen the peace between Israel and Jordan,” added Landau.
There are 12,000 hotel rooms in Eilat, and thousands of workers are required to cover positions in cleaning, dishwashing and room service. The situation is particularly acute given the lack of urban infrastructure in the city that could help with the recruitment of employees. Several short-term solutions have been used to solve this problem of providing workers for the hotel industry in the resort.
As a result of a prior agreement signed between Israel and Jordan, there are currently up to 300 day workers from Jordan working in different areas in Eilat. This agreement has been working satisfactorily according to the Tourism Ministry since the year 2000 with about 170 Jordanian workers crossing into Eilat and returning home at the end of the day.
The modern city of Eilat was established in 1950, with the tourism industry developing in the city towards the end of the 1960’s. A leading tourist city today, Eilat is located on the southernmost tip of Israel, with its famous coral reef and unique marine life running along its Red Sea shores.