Israel on Tuesday said it will reopen the country to vaccinated foreign tourists in May, more than a year after closing its borders to most international visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Tourism Ministry said a limited number of tourist groups will be allowed to enter the country starting May 23, with individual visitors allowed at a later stage. All foreign tourists entering the country will be tested for coronavirus before boarding flights to Israel and must present a serological test to prove they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Israel suffered a major economic blow due to the coronavirus pandemic. In recent months, it has carried out highly successful vaccination program that has allowed it to reopen most sectors of the economy. But the tourism industry, limited only to serving Israelis, remains blighted.
"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.
Yossi Fattal, head of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association, an industry trade group, welcomed the decision but said "the speed and way it is being handled are worrying."
He said the group doesn't understand why it is so much easier for a vaccinated Israeli than a tourist who has received the same vaccine to enter the country. He called on Israel to adopt international standards for recognizing vaccinations and not rely on serological tests, which he said raise privacy concerns.
Israel has recorded over 836,000 cases of COVID-19 and at least 6,304 deaths since the start of the pandemic. But in the months since the launch of its vaccination campaign in December, serious cases and deaths have fallen precipitously and the economy has fully reopened.
The Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi, a U.S. Jewish group, said it plans on sending a delegation of leaders in late May. It said it wants to encourage American Jews to make Israel their first post-pandemic destination.
"As Israel relaxes its travel restrictions, we wanted to be the first organized trip back home," said Rabbi Ari Rockoff, the group's executive vice president.
© 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Follow breaking news like this and more in our new platform, CHARISMA PLUS.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.
Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!
- Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
- Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
- God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
- Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
- HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!
Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details