Israel's tourist industry hopes for border relaxation in July

Ben Gurion Airport  / Photo: Matan Portnoy, Globes , Globes

In the first stage, international travel will likely be permitted through bilateral agreements with countries like Cyprus, where Covid-19 morbidity was low.

Israel's aviation and tourism sector is ready to go as the coronavirus fades but is plagued by uncertainty. There is little to discuss regarding international tourism (Israelis traveling abroad and foreigners coming into Israel) while the Ministry of Health sticks to its ban on non-Israeli passport holders coming into the country and insisting on Israelis returning from abroad going into 14-days self-isolations.

The regulations are in force until June 15 and sources believe they will be extended at least into early July with in the first stage international travel being permitted between Israel and a list of selected countries where Covid-19 morbidity was low.

This 'green list' is likely to include Israel's neighbors Greece and Cyprus as well as Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia and the Seychelles among others. Countries on the 'green' list will only include places that still bar tourists from 'red' countries like the US, to reduce the danger of Israeli tourists being infected while abroad.

Bilateral agreements with these countries may not do much in terms of bringing foreign tourists to Israel but it will offer Israelis an opportunity to vacation abroad, likely from about July 9, when the extended school year is expected to end.

Cyprus already announced unilaterally last week that it was opening its borders to Israelis.

Whatever happens Ben Gurion airport is already getting ready with stricter safety and security measures. Travelers will be required to reach the airport four hours before their flights and will not even be admitted to the airport terminal, where temperatures will be taken, let alone board a flight, if they have a fever. Lines for security checks will be well spaced out and passengers must wear masks at all times. Services on aircraft will be minimal.

El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) has no plans to fly before the end of June and the only airline to have resumed flights to Israel is Wizz Air. The low cost Hungarian airline is currently operating scheduled flights between Tel Aviv and London, Sofia and Budapest.

ISSTA Lines (TASE: ISTA) and Fattal Holdings (1998) Ltd. (TASE:FTAL) are already offering packages for the hotels they own in Paphos, Cyprus starting July 1 dependent on the Ministry of Health relaxing compulsory self-isolation on return and with cancellation options until a few days before the vacation.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 25, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

Ben Gurion Airport  / Photo: Matan Portnoy, Globes , Globes
Ben Gurion Airport / Photo: Matan Portnoy, Globes , Globes
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