The Church of Scotland’s hotel in Israel is set to undergo a major expansion in the New Year.
The Scots Hotel in Tiberias, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, has been open for six years providing accommodation for pilgrims and tourists from around the world visiting the land where Jesus walked.
However, competition from other hotels in the area has intensified with most others offering fitness facilities for guests. Now the Scots Hotel is to add a new £1.7m fitness centre of its own which will help safeguard existing jobs, create new jobs and raise extra income.
This plan implements a decision of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1999 on which progress has been delayed by site and other difficulties.
The centre will comprise a gymnasium, sauna, jacuzzi and a number of rooms for health treatments such as reflexology and massage. The area of Tiberias is famous for a number of naturally occurring hot springs and the region has a culture of providing such facilities at hotels.
The completion of the centre will help the Church fulfil its vision for the Scots Hotel as a force for good in the region. The Hotel is on the site of a hospital founded by Dr David Watt Torrance in 1894 and under the Church of Scotland his legacy of healing is continuing.
Very Reverend Dr Andrew McLellan, Convener of the Church’s World Mission Council, said: “This hotel is more than just a comfortable base for tourists and pilgrims in Israel. It has the potential to be a centre for peace and reconciliation in an area of the world that needs these things urgently and we intend to build on those aspects of our work.
“The development of the Scots Hotel is a very positive step forward. It ensures the long-term viability of the hotel, safeguards the jobs of the 70 people who work there, from all the main local faith traditions, and creates new jobs for those working in the fitness centre.
“The financial returns from this centre will help fund the Church of Scotland’s work with its partners in Israel, Palestine and throughout the world.”
The £1.7m will be provided from the earmarked reserves of the World Mission Council and the profits from the Hotel.
Dr McLellan concluded: “I believe that this development will allow the Scots Hotel to continue to prosper. I hope that many thousands of pilgrims from Scotland and all over the world get the chance to visit the land of Jesus’ life and ministry, have opportunities to interact with, and support, the Christians who remain in the land, and also encounter their neighbours, who are Muslims and Jews.”
Notes to News Editors:
Work on the fitness centre is expected to start in March 2011 and take 10 months to complete.
The hotel is one of three centres run by the Church in Israel/Palestine, the others being the St Andrew’s Guesthouse in Jerusalem and Tabeetha School in Jaffa, linked to Tel Aviv. All three strive to fulfil the church’s aims of promoting peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land, and of standing alongside the vulnerable Christian community, which makes up less than 2% of the population.
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