During the last decade, there was a significant growth in the rural tourism and zimmers (rural accommodation) industries. According to statistics, this industry is worth about 1 billion shekel a year. There are about 9,000 zimmers in Israel which mainly attract domestic tourism during weekends, holidays and vacations and therefore result in an annual occupancy rate of 38%.
As part of the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee's policy to develop and bring prosperity to the periphery, a need was identified to exploit the potential of rural accommodation both for domestic and incoming tourism and, as a result, the IBB initiative was developed, a grading system that facilitated for the first time an address for inquiries and an answer for every tourist wishing to stay in zimmers.
The IBB grading system checks 140 different criteria in line with international norms and grades the rooms according to standards A, B and C that determine the levels of quality and service.
The criteria include, among others, type of mattress/pillow; cleaning in non-conventional areas; distance of zimmer from chicken coop or cow shed; size of room; noise from the air conditioning; credible advertising/price correspondence.
The zimmer owners participate in a workshop and the rooms are checked by a consultant working on behalf of the Tourism Ministry. At the end of the process, they connect to an internet system that synchronizes online reservations (it is possible to see which zimmers are available) alongside the zimmer grading, price per night, nearby attractions and more. A sign bearing the zimmer grading is places on the zimmer door.