Israel will reopen the country in May to some vaccinated foreign tourists, more than a year after closing its borders to most international visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Inbound tourism to Israel will resume May 23, 2021, initially for six countries: Cyprus, Greece, The U.K., Spain, Austria, and Germany. The pilot program’s phase 1 will begin with groups at first as they will be easier to monitor. Individual travelers are expected to be allowed in at a later stage.
“After opening the economy, it is time to allow tourism in a careful and calculated manner,” Health Minister Yuli Edelstein said in a joint statement with the Tourism Ministry.
Across all phases, foreign tourists entering the country will be required to undergo a PCR test before boarding their flight to Israel, and a serological test to prove their vaccination upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport
“It is time that Israel’s unique advantage as a safe and healthy country starts to assist it in recovering from the economic crisis,” said Farkash-Hacohen in the statement. “Only opening the skies for international tourism will truly revive the tourism industry, including restaurants, hotels, sites, tour guides, buses, and others looking to work and provide for their families.”
The statement said Israel will continue to negotiate with countries over mutual recognition of vaccination certificates to remove the need for serological tests.
Gal Hana, Canada’s consul tourism director for the Israel Ministry of Tourism, previously told Travel Market Report the hope is by the end of Q3 to welcome tourists, but 2022 is looking like it will be a boom for the industry across the globe.
“Tourism will start sooner than others will expect, Thailand and Greece have opened to tourism, and there are more and more vaccines being administered. It’s a very positive sign,” Hana said.
Israel is gearing up for its eventual return to full capacity with a slew of renovation and development projects.
The Tower of David, the symbol of Jerusalem, for the first time in close to 50 years, will undergo a multi-million-dollar renewal and conservation project. The Terra Sancta Museum, a museum network that includes all the places of conservation of historical, artistic, and archaeological heritage of the Custody of the Holy Land, is undergoing renovation. The Emmaus Trail is being constructed to allow visitors to hike from the Saxum Visitor Center to Emmaus Nicopolis.
New hotel openings this year including Six Senses Shaharut, opening in August, in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert with 58 ultra-luxe and sustainable suites and villas. The onsite amenities will include an Earth Lab, camel stables, Senses Spa, authentic Bedouin dining experience, and more.
Boutique hotel Soho House Tel Aviv, located in a former convent in the historic Jaffa neighborhood, will debut this spring with an outdoor pool, terrace, and 24 guestrooms, as well as Nobu Tel Aviv, with 38 guestrooms, a large garden, fitness center, pool, outdoor spaces, and a private rooftop.
After postponing its opening to early 2021, Sofia Sea of Galilee Hotel is a new spa and resort property in a converted 19th-century historic stone house. It features 120 luxury rooms, a luxurious spa, several restaurants and bars, and an infinity pool.