As part of the campaign, which will be distributed in Israel and abroad (through Tourism Ministry bureaus worldwide), Eilat will be presented not just as a sea and sun resort, but as a city of attractions and shopping, an academic tourism city, which is not very far from central Israel – allowing tourists to go on excursions in different sites in the area.
In a conference held in the city last week in the presence of tourism and hotel industry leaders, the Adler Chomski Group advertising agency and Eitan Liftz branding office revealed that many cities in the world were undergoing a rebranding process at the moment.
"Branding is more than a media-related move. It's a long process of building a tourism product which can be distinguished from other products. In Eilat's case, the plan was to position it as the only Western tourism city in the Red Sea and basically as the Red City capital, mainly because of its huge touristic potential."
So what's on the agenda? Upgrading the public tourist area, upgrading the promenade and public beaches, building an ecological beach and developing a central park.
In addition, a series of sports events will be held in the city in the coming year, including the U20 World Weightlifting Championships, the European Chess Championship, the European Swimming Championship and the European Olympic Committee's conference.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who upon taking office defined Eilat as "a boring city where tourists say there is nothing to do," said last week that "the goal is to turn Eilat into a tourist destination of national importance, which will compete with all tourist sites in the Red Sea area. We'll increase tourism to Eilat in any way possible.
"The work plan for 2012 includes a casino. I am in favor of a casino. It's meant to be part of a conference center and part of a plan to turn Eilat into an international conference city."
The idea is that Eilat won't be able to compete against neighboring tourist destinations in terms of sea and sun vacation prices, and will therefore be branded as a "plus city" with a lot of content: A city of festivals, music, sports, dance, fashion, conferences, attractions and shopping.
The cost of the rebranding and the following investments is estimated at hundreds of millions of shekels, but part of this money is already being invested today and will be channeled to the rebranding.
In addition, the goal is to turn Eilat into an academic tourism city, while increasing tourism in the city.
Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevy called for the transfer of tourism studies from Ben-Gurion University, noting that it was only logical that the tourism program should be offered in a city based on tourism. A municipal tourism company is being established to implement the plans in coordination with all tourism bodies.
In addition, once Eilat is declared a national priority area again, the plan is to being building 1,000 new hotel rooms, which will join the 10,000 existing rooms, as early as next year. The plan is to have some 18,000 hotel rooms in the city by 2020.
The tourism minister said that week that there were plans to build five hotels on Eilat's eastern lagoon. He added that the Tourism Ministry had signed an agreement with the Eilat Municipality to invest some NIS 103 million (about $28 million) in the city in the next four years.
"It's a joint and unique working plan, which will see us invest in tourism infrastructure in order to return an upgraded Eilat to the tourism map," Misezhnikov said. "We are also partners in the development plan after the evacuation of the airport, the construction of the new airport in Timna and a future plan to relocate the Eilat Port."
Yair Sagi contributed to this report