Israel to open its borders to tour groups from 14 countries this month

Israel will open its borders to vaccinated or recovered tourists from 14 countries starting May 23, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.

The countries are: the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.

“In recent weeks, I have spoken a lot about the need to bring vaccinated tourists to the State of Israel and take advantage of the fact that Israel is a safe country in order to contribute to Israel’s economy, instead of other countries,” Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen told the network.

Last week, Farkash-Hacohen unveiled a four-part tourism plan to reporters, which included a global advertising campaign, flight incentives to Eilat, and the reintroduction of large international events.

Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen holds a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. (Rafi Ben Hakon/GPO)

To curb the spread of COVID, tourists will be required to take a PCR coronavirus test before boarding a plane to Israel. Upon arrival in Israel, they will have to take both a PCR test and a serological test, which proves the existence of antibodies.

Farkash-Hacohen said that Israel would only open its borders to tourists who had FDA- or EU-approved vaccinations, which bars tourists from countries such as Russia for the time being.

At first, only tourist groups will be allowed to enter the country and they will be accompanied by vaccinated guides and drivers, Channel 12 reported. Israel plans to expand entry for tourists in the coming months, and potentially welcome individual tourists in July.

A patient breathes with the help of oxygen provided by a Gurdwara, Sikh place of worship, inside a car in New Delhi, India, April 24, 2021. (Altaf Qadri/AP)

Last week, the Health Ministry recommended delaying the launch of Israel’s tourism program, citing the spread of the insidious COVID variant ravaging India.

Although the government did not take on this recommendation, on Monday Israel banned travel to seven high-risk countries including India, and implemented new quarantine guidelines for Israelis returning home from them, including for vaccinated or recovered travelers.

Israel’s coronavirus caseload has plummeted due to its successful vaccination campaign, which has seen over 5 million of its 9 million citizens fully vaccinated.

Israel registered a drop of some 81 percent in tourism in 2020 compared to the previous year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Tourism Ministry said in January.

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