A beach on the Kinneret.
A beach on the Kinneret. Photo by Gil Eliyahu
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For the second year running, no offers have been submitted in tenders to operate three beaches on the eastern shore of the Kinneret. The three beaches, Lavnun, Kursi and Halukim, feature broad land strips, as opposed to beaches on the western shore - but beach operators are wary they would find themselves in the red following the tenders' demands and recent legislation.

The tenders demanded operators to provide a strict "basket of services," including security, insurance, cleanliness and other issues, while local legislation recently limited prices for parking spots around the Kinneret. Igud Arim, the government association assisting local authorities, tried adding an attractive clause to the tenders, promising it would finance the lifesaving and emergency services at the beaches.

"If despite that cookie nobody submitted an offer, it means that nobody believes that operating a Kinneret beach is economically feasible," a former beach operator told Haaretz. "The conditions of the tenders force the operator to invest in the beach. If Igud Arim runs into trouble, they can request assistance from the Finance Ministry. We don't enjoy that privilege."

The former operator said that recent legislation limiting parking prices to "several shekels" and never more that NIS 60 for 24 hours was "pure populism. We're not talking about a parking lot. I'm supposed to furnish a family that paid 'several shekels' showers, lavatories, electricity, security and carry out maintenance work. For 'several shekels?'"

Another problem facing operators is the growth of reeds and bushes on the beaches in the years when the water line was lower. Now the flora covers many areas that used to serve bathers entering the water. Beach operators who wished to mow the vegetation were forbidden to do so by the Water Authority who feared intervening in the delicate ecological balance.

"For us that's a huge problem," says Shalom Tubul, the operator of the Rotem-Shizaf beach which suffers from that problem. "Tourists see the vegetation in the water and simply get back into their cars."

A Water Authority spokesperson said: "We allow mowing in areas where it is needed, not according to popular demand."