After closing its borders to non-Israeli passport holders in March 2020, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Health have formed a plan, which will allow the country to reopen cautiously to foreign tourists from next month. From May 23, foreign tourists will be allowed into Israel as part of organized tour groups and providing they have been vaccinated.
Foreign tourists, like Israelis returning to Israel, will also be required to present a negative Covid-19 test from the previous 72 hours. However, foreign tourists will also need to undergo a serology test at Ben Gurion airport to ensure that they have sufficient antibodies in their blood. The results of the thumb prick test will be provided within 15 minutes.
At the same time, Israel is in talks to conclude reciprocal agreements with countries to recognize vaccination certificates, which could ultimately exempt the citizens of those countries from serology tests.
By focusing on organized tour groups only, Israel's tourist marketing will concentrate on religious groups, especially from the US, where the vaccination rollout has been strong. This sector made up a significant segment of incoming tourism before the Covid pandemic.
If the influx of a limited number of tour groups has no impact on the infection rate in Israel, then incoming tourism will be extended to individuals as well as groups.
Israel's Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hacohen said, "The time has come for Israel’s unique advantage as a safe and healthy country to start assisting in rehabilitating the Israeli economy and the tourism sector. Only opening the skies for incoming international tourism will genuinely revive the tourism industry, including restaurants, hotels, sites, tour guides, buses and others looking to work and provide for their families. I'll continue to press for the full return of incoming tourism to Israel, which will help the Israeli economy and provide the jobs that so many Israelis currently need."
At present about 8,000-10,000 passengers pass through Ben Gurion airport every day, about half of them arriving and half departing. Passenger traffic is restricted due to the Ministry of Health's social distancing requirements in the various areas of the airport, even though the passengers are subsequently crammed into aircraft. The Ministry of Health is considering easing the two meter distance requirement so that airport traffic can be increased.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 13, 2021
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