|M.Sc Student||Ardetz Mariana|
|Subject||Visitors' Attitudes towards Existing and Future Development|
of the Haifa Beaches
|Department||Department of Architecture and Town Planning||Supervisor||Professor Emeritus Arza Churchman|
This study examines the behavior of visitors to the beaches in Haifa, and their attitudes towards their current and future development. The beach is a popular public destination with unique qualities as part of Israel’s open landscapes, and most recently has been a target of increasingly strong pressures toward development. The study consisted of interviews with 185 adult visitors to the Haifa beaches and 120 direct observations of their behavior conducted between March 2001 and February 2002.
A majority of interviewees frequent the beach between once to several times per week, with the frequency higher during the summer and spring than during the winter and autumn. The chief purposes of visits included: walking along the promenade, resting and relaxing and enjoying nature. Three areas were found to have significantly lower satisfaction ratings than average: Carmel beach towers; sports areas and play areas. Satisfaction ratings were highest for beach appearance, restaurants, and parking availability. Planning and development of public recreation beaches often generates controversy about the appropriate components and degree of change to the original/natural conditions. A majority of the respondents were in favor of the development of moderate elements, such as play areas for children, sports areas, grass plots, coffee shops and restaurants, dance areas and a promenade on the beach. A majority were opposed to the construction of larger buildings on the beaches of Haifa, such as hotels, residential areas. Most were in favor of the preservation of natural beaches. When asked whether there was a difference between the development of residential areas versus hotels on the beach, a majority of interviewees responded that residential areas do not contribute to the beach, lead to neglect of the beach, and result in the need for additional services, while the development of hotels can contribute to the city’s finances, tourism, and the overall image of the beach, thus being preferable. The last topic surveyed was the importance of planning principles for the development of beaches, such as free access to the beaches, possibility to walk along the shore without obstacles; availability of public transportation to the beach, preservation of an open view from the neighborhoods to the beach, preservation of natural beaches, retention of coastal line without construction, public participation in the planning process and development of the beaches for the purpose of tourism. A majority of interviewees responded that all the principles, except the last one, are very important and should be considered in the planning process.