Israel Accessible Tourism -- Offering an Array of Opportunities for the Disabled

The Promised Land of the Bible, Israel is regarded today as a thriving and vibrant country, attracting huge crowds of tourists from all over the world. For many centuries, the places of the most fascinating events in the history of mankind were dormant beneath crumbling terraces and sands, until the People of Israel reclaimed the land on returning from exile. Thus, desert wilderness and barren hillsides were replaced by green forests and fertile farms, flourishing industries and commercial enterprises. Thanks to the country's Israel Accessible Tourism Act, the disabled can enjoy this sacred land as well.

In addition to its diverse historical and religious sites, Israel has much to offer to each of its visitors, from sunny beaches and sophisticated hotels to colorful markets and health resorts, all of them located within the compact geographic area. Such diversity of attractions and opportunities has resulted in an increased number of travelers worldwide coming to Israel to experience charm and beauty of the Holy Land. The country welcomes tourists of all ages and religions, as well as disabled people who are now offered the same array of opportunities.

The Ministry of Tourism Israel attaches much importance to the development of Israel Accessible Tourism, as an important means for enabling physically handicapped people to tour Israel. Over the years, the Ministry of Tourism has been working towards developing infrastructures, which would provide accessibility for disabled.

Implementing the public infrastructure development policies of the Ministry, the Government Tourism Company has contributed to the promotion of Israel Accessible Tourism by investing in arrangements from disabled both in renovating existing sites and creating new tourist sites. As a result, a number of sites countrywide have been made accessible, including the Theater of Caesarea, Massada and the Knight's Halls at Acre among others.

Additionally to the physical arrangements, the Ministry of Tourism has also invested much in providing info on the accessible locations in major cities of Israel. Thus, disabled travelers can take advantage of the Access Israel Association's web site, containing all the necessary information concerning Israel Accessible Tourism, including attractions, accommodations, transportation, excursions, festivals and events. Organized by the Ministry are also training courses for tour guides that specialize in organizing tours for disabled and preparing tour routes adapted for them.

Provided by Israel Accessible Tourism are a wide variety of services are offered for the physically disabled:

- The hearing impaired can take advantage of sign language guided tours with professional sign language interpreters; amplifying electronic devices, vibration and light equipment; special activities and itineraries on request of individuals and groups.
- Blind and visually impaired guests are offered a number of services as well, including professionally guided tours, which imply the use of the senses of taste, smell and hearing; experienced tour guides, providing the disabled with detailed verbal description of the visited sites; Braille maps, tactile models and diagrams; and activities and itineraries for the specific needs of groups and individuals.
- Wheelchair assisted travelers are provided with specially equipped vehicles, hotel rooms equipped for wheelchair users and professional tour guides that specialize in working with disabled, while slow walkers can take advantage of travel services in comfortable accessible vehicles.

All disable travelers are provided with medical services according to their needs with comfortable rest stops from bathrooms, meals, special itineraries and activities.

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