Over the past weeks, we have been contacted many times by partners and friends globally all asking us the same thing: When they should be able to plan their tour to the holy land and what will Israel after COVID look like for travel? This has increased with the start of administering of COVID 19 vaccinations in many countries including Israel.
While we wait to see how the situation unfolds and try to get the answer to when can we go back to working with you on your desired Christian Israel tour with firmed up dates, we want to share with you some information on what Israel after COVID 19 could look like and when we can expect guidelines for the return to safe travel and resumption of tours to the Holy Land.
Israel, as a small country of just over 9 million citizens, having a modern market-based economy enjoying a comparable level of GDP per capita to the average European Union, has since 1995 universal health coverage, whereas each citizen may choose between 4 competing non-profit making health plans (health funds). These funds are charged with providing a broad package of benefits stipulated by the government and Healthcare costs are relatively low and the system if efficient.
All Israeli citizens are covered through this system by belonging to one of the 4 healthcare funds which operate local and regional clinics, medical centers and hospitals.
The existence of this medical care system in Israel together with very early acquisition, is what can explain Israel’s major global lead in administering the COVID 19 vaccinations as seen below:
While the number of cases is still high (over 7000 new cases on 02/04/2021) and Israel is still under its third lockdown, vaccinations are now available to the general population and the number of citizens that have been vaccinated is nearing 3,500,000.
The overall situation may not show a huge improvement, but if one studies where the majority of new cases surface, it is evident that particular populations which have not been observing the lock down rules, or have been avoiding vaccinations are indeed where most new cases are surfacing and with the vaccination operation strongly underway we are hoping to witness an improvement by April 2021.
The latest lockdown has Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport shut down for International flights, making it now impossible for any travel or tours, coupled with the fact hotels are also shut down.
Together with that, the demand for tours to the Holy land seems to be growing with many groups which have had to cancel their planned tours in 2020 and into 2021, rebooking for the fall of 2021 and spring 2022.
The Israeli Ministry of Tourism is currently working with the Israeli Hotel Association and Tour Operators Association on guidelines for what Israel after COVID will look like once open for tourists and tour groups. It is pointless at this early stage to try and guess what those guidelines will finally look like (Covid tests, vaccination certificate, quarantine… ?), but what we do know is that the entire industry is getting ready for the day after and we will communicate the new guidelines as soon as these are confirmed and published from the Israeli government.
Israel after COVID will bring more challenges to the industry in Israel. Hotels have a huge backlog in reservations from fall 2021 due to the groups which had canceled and rebooked toppled by many new reservations. With the US Dollar currently weakened against the Israeli Shekel, prices are expected to be affected and increase. Transportation costs have already increased, something we expect to see happen with other service providers as well such as restaurants and even entrance fees. Israel after COVID will certainly be different than we saw in previous years.
When planning your Israel tour for fall 2021 or 2022, we know there is much uncertainty, confusion and difficulties. We encourage anyone planning on taking a group tour to Israel in the coming year, to plan ahead and work with us on booking dates, selecting hotels and the desired itinerary. We are not requiring any deposits at this stage and will continue to work to delay any deposit until the situation clears up again and travel plans to Israel can once again be firmed up.
Immanuel Tours is proud to have fully refunded all of our groups which had tours cancelled in 2020 due to COVID 19. Our Israel-based Tour Operators are standing by to work with you through our office in Nes Ziona, Israel. We also have a marketing office in the USA. Both are ready to answer your questions, provide you with new information and updates and work with you on once again being able to make the dream of a visit to the Holy land a reality to your tour participants.
For up to date information on COVID 19 Israel Travel, please go to: https://www.immanuel-tours.com/covid-19-travel-to-israel/