A second wave of 500 Jordanian workers will be joining Israel’s workforce in the southern vacation resort city of Eilat to work in the hotel industry. The initiative was launched by the Ministry of Tourism which has sought solutions to the acute shortage of manpower in the city’s hotel industry ahead of the summer holiday season.
“Eilat is a tourist resort with the highest number of tourist nightly stays in Israel and the need for workers in the hotel industry is growing as the summer season approaches,” Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said.
The 500 Jordanians will join 400 Jordanian workers already in Eilat. This influx constitutes the second round of up to 1,500 Jordanian citizens approved in 2014 amid challenges posed by a lack of interest among Israelis to work in the vibrant holiday resort.
The Jordanian workers will mainly be employed in service-oriented jobs such as cleaning, room service, kitchen duties, etc. According to the Economy Ministry, the Israeli government had attempted to encourage the employment of Israelis in Eilat in the past yet had not achieved the intended results despite offers of scholarships, annual bonuses, housing benefits, and daycare for children.
The new workers will be granted day permits by the Interior Ministry which will enable them to enter Israel and return to Jordan at the end of the workday.
Eilat Hotel Association General Manager Shabtai Shay told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) that the initiative is the answer to a much-needed solution to the problem of constantly changing government policies combined with Israelis’ general disinterest in working in Eilat.
Shay explained that the government had cancelled the quota of 600 foreign workers to be employed in Eilat after 2006 in an effort to make room for Israeli workers, an initiative that was known as the Ovdah Project.
“This was supposed to bring Israelis to Eilat to replace the foreigners. The idea was to give them financial benefits on top of their regular salary. But they didn’t respond well to the program at all,” Shay said.
Shay added that hotel managers were forced to employ illegal alien refugees from Sudan and Eritrea with minimal to no background checks on a temporary basis following the further depletion of the city’s workforce.
“The idea of bringing Jordanians was to see if it would be viable and if it could solve the unpredictable policies which have not worked. We wanted an ambitious project and we wanted to bring 1,500 employees in three stages of six-month intervals,” Shay elaborated.
“This will definitely have a significant and positive impact on the level of service,” he concluded optimistically.
By Alexander J. Apfel/TPS – The Tazpit News Agency