Israel’s southernmost city of Eilat has been named one of the world’s top ten emerging travel destinations by TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers’ Choice awards. This while the city braces for the impact of a nearby oil spill which has been characterized as one of Israel’s worst ecological disasters.
Eilat came in at number ten while Da Nang Vietnam made the top spot on the list. The website said that Eilat is “one of Israel’s most popular resort cities. Nestled at the Northern tip of the Red Sea, Eilat’s warm, clear waters are a huge draw for divers, while the reefs of Coral Beach Nature Reserve are perfect for snorkelers.
“Above sea level, the ancient copper mines of Timna National Park are begging to be explored, as are the shops, bars and restaurants of the seaside promenade.”
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities are working to prevent oil which leaked from a burst pipeline last week from reaching the city. The oil has already caused untold damage to the southern Negev desert’s nature preserves and local ecology.
The rupture in the Eilat-Ashklon Pipeline occurred by accident during maintenance work last Wednesday night at a location only 12 miles north of the city. An estimated 660, 000 gallons of oil were released. 6, 000 tons of contaminated soil has been removed by the Israel Environmental Ministry.
Israel Environment Ministry official Guy Samet said that, “Rehabilitation will take months, if not years. This has grave ecological implications, including damage to coral reefs in the Gulf. Currently, efforts are being made to remove as much oil and soil as possible to other locations.”