Pack your camera – Israel is back! The return of tourism post Covid-19
EXCITING NEWS! – June 14, 2021
As of July 1, 2021 Israel will be open to tourism, so pack your camera! The day that Covid-19 will finally be behind us is fast approaching. Israel Photography Tour has been giving updates on the changing travel situation in previous blog posts, with the last one mentioning an ease on travel restrictions by allowing a limited number of tour groups into the country. But the new regulations will allow for individual travellers to arrive. That’s big news for us, particularly for our one-on-one private photography tours and workshops. Due to the nature of our photographic experiences – that being educational tours that cater to the individual travel photographer and his/her skill level and preferred photographic subjects, this is the news we have been waiting for!
Since April this year, Israel has returned to a sense of normality where masks are no longer needed to be worn outdoors, the opening of restaurants, hotels, events, businesses and most other factors in our lives are back to pre-Covid days, mainly due to Israel’s aggressive national vaccination drive. Now it’s time for the country’s tourism sector to return.
In it’s current state, regulations for incoming and outgoing flights require the following items:
- A negative PCR Coronavirus test taken within 72 hours before the flight.
- A vaccination certificate.
- A Ministry of Interior entry form to Israel in the 24 hours before your flight.
- Arriving passengers to Ben Gurion airport undergo a Coronavirus test.
- Departing passengers from Ben Gurion airport undergo a Coronavirus test.
* Information about testing for Coronavirus on departure from Israel is as follows:
- Regardless of vaccination status, all tourists exiting Israel will require a negative PCR Covid test carried out 72 hours before your flight.
- Israeli passport holders with a valid vaccination certificate or recovery certificate do not need this test, however it may be needed by the airline or country you are flying to.
- The 3 options for outgoing tourists to have a PCR Covid test are at the airport a day before your flight, at a hospital or clinic, or a private door-to-door PCR Covid test at your home or hotel. Currently, the door-to-door test is the most convenient and cheapest option [from $149.00 USD per person], and will save in waiting in lines to conduct the test.
Due to the implications on changes made in travel due to Covid, and the extra time needed to pass through international borders, it may be worth considering a VIP fast-track service at Ben Gurion airport. We highly recommend this company for their service and professionalism, and work with them for our guest’s transportation needs.
EXCITING UPDATE – April 16, 2021
Emerging this week from local news channels may be the most hopeful and exciting announcements in the fight against Coronavirus since the pandemic began over a year ago. A joint statement by the Health Ministry & Tourism Ministry announced that organised tour groups will be allowed to enter Israel starting on May 23. The statement said that tour groups at first will be allowed to enter, with individuals allowed entry at a later stage. This will allow for control and to monitor potential infections in stages. Tourists will be required to take a PCR test before boarding a plane, and then take a PCR test & serological test on arrival, to prove the existence of antibodies. This is huge news for the local tourist industry, as almost all foreigners were banned from entering the country since March in an attempt to control the pandemic. The fight against the virus has seen major advances recently, with the Health Ministry releasing a statement that from this Sunday, Israelis will no longer be required to wear protective face masks outside. With the world’s fastest per-capita vaccination drive and subsequent drop in new infection cases, these recent developments have created a new sense of optimism.
- April 12, 2021:
Since the outbreak and spread of Covid-19 around the globe in early 2020, the travel industry in particular has been hit especially hard. Lockdowns, quarantines, facemarks.. We are all beyond being fed up with the effect and disruption of the virus to our lives. While we have also suffered in Israel from the effects, we are also one of the few countries that tackled the problem head on and at an early stage. With regular testing, lockdowns and a rapid mass vaccination programme, we are heading in the right direction. Restaurants, shops, commercial centres, entertainment venues, educational institutes and most other industries have all opened up. This includes hotels and local tourism, which has really shown us a light at the end of the tunnel. This is especially promising for the return of international tourism, as 2019 was a record year for foreign visitors, with 2020 predicted to overtake it before the pandemic put a halt to our plans.
Recently, Jordan and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula opened their land borders with Israel. While flights are currently limited to halt the spread of mutations of the virus to enter the country, there is talk of air borders opening up to visitors in the near future for inbound/outbound travel. This is likely to begin with travel corridors with other countries with a low infection rate and effective vaccination programme. Photographers are itching to visit distant lands with their cameras and we predict an avalanche of visitors arriving to Israel – to the extent that has not been seen before. The number of daily cases of Coronavirus infections has plummeted 97% thanks to the country’s effective vaccination programme. According to a top computational biologist from the Weizmann Institute of Science that was interviewed on Channel 12 news this week, Israel could be the first country in the world to achieve herd immunity.
We have already been accepting bookings for 2022 as well as for the fall of 2021. Due to the expected high rate of bookings for flights and hotels, we urge you to plan and book your trip in advance. We are holding dates in our diary for tours and workshops with fellow photographers, moving forward. On a personal level, I am very excited with the thought of travel photographers returning to Israel in the near future, and am looking forward to getting back to what I love to do the most – guiding fellow photographers to Israel’s most photogenic sites, capturing spontaneous portraits and aiding you in improving your creative and technical skills in the wonderful world of photography.
Here is a useful link for travellers making plans to enter Israel: https://www.gov.il/en/departments/guides/flying-to-israel-guidlines
Here is a link with updated information from the Ministry of Health: https://govextra.gov.il/ministry-of-health/corona/corona-virus-en/