As the first full lockdown subsided in June, and Israel began to reopen, Israel’s most beloved nature parks launched a new policy, which had actually been in the works for years. Post COVID-19, the policy enables people to spend time in Israel’s favorite nature reserves without overcrowding. For the first time ever, visitors needed to preregister and reserve their spot in nature. At first, only 20 paid parks and reserves opened, until all 67 paid parks were eventually opened for preregistration.
What came next shocked the Israel Parks and Nature Authority, which had been hesitant with the new policy given the well-known culture of Israeli spontaneity. However, after months of being stuck indoors, Israelis embraced the policy quite well and enjoyed the opportunity to visit their favorite spots without the overcrowding.
While last summer saw 1.4 million visitors, one-third of which were tourists, this summer amazingly saw a record-breaking 1.5 million visitors, all Israelis. The Nature Parks Authority is overall seeing the benefits of the new system.
They can regulate how many visitors enter per day, can eliminate a rush of crowds at the entrance, and ensure they manage to clear the trash in the parks. One of their main issues was that about 30% of people don’t end up as no shows. As they analyze and understand the weekly trends, they set different quotas based on needs. While the number of visitors has spiked, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing. More people means more chances of harming the environment. Perhaps the next phase is to manage the crowds, while also, first and foremost, ensuring the protection of nature.