Tourism development challenges on the Dead Sea shore

Open access

Abstract

The Dead Sea along with Jerusalem belongs to one of the most well-known spots visited by tourists in Israel. Because of many factors, such as the water level of the Dead Sea at a depth of 430 m b.s.l. (in 2015), average salinity of 26%, hot springs and many healing salts located there, it is a unique tourist attraction on a global level. Its attractiveness is heightened by its proximity to other sites of interest, such as the Jewish fortress at Masada, Jericho, Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, as well as Petra, Madaba and Al-Karak on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. High salinity and a microclimate create perfect conditions for the development of health resorts and medical tourism. Extracting healing salts from its waters for the needs of the chemical industry is important for both the economy and medical tourism. However, as a consequence of the agricultural and urban use of the waters of the River Jordan, which flows into the Dead Sea, a persistent decrease in the lake water level has been observed over the last century. This has created a number of economic and political issues. The problems which still have to be resolved are associated with the Red Sea-Dead Sea Conduit (Canal), the division of Jordan’s water resources, conservation of the unique reservoir of the Dead Sea and the threat of hindering the development of tourism within the region. The presentation of these issues is the main aim of this research paper. The study is based on the analysis of changes in tourism flows, results of research studies and the prognosis of changes in the water level of the Dead Sea. It presents an assessment of the effects of this phenomenon on the tourist economy. At the current level of tourism flows within the region, the tourist capacity of local beaches will be exceeded in areas where the most popular tourist resorts are located. Increased expenditure on development of tourism infrastructure in the coastal zone can also be observed. The predicted decreasing water level will result in further modifications and expansion of tourism infrastructure, decreased accessibility to the coastline for tourists, increased costs of visiting and may lead to an ecological disaster.

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