Israel was one of the first countries to initiate a sweeping lockdown in response to the global health crisis, banning visitors from just about everywhere.
In fact, their immigration policy was simpler than most with line after line of noted exceptions, simply stating “passengers are not allowed to enter Israel, with the exception of residents and nationals”. With a key stroke, all international travel was turned off.
After months of a largely successful lockdown, Israel’s tourism ministers are laying the ground work for a return to tourism, with gradual, phased plans. The crawl then walk approach too its first moves today.
Sunday, May 3rd 2020 marked the first day domestic travelers in Israel could make use of guest houses and limited hotels, typically found outside of major cities. It’s a small step, but a large signal that the country is aiming to restore tourism in the coming months, based on successful phases.
The question now is about a wider return to tourism, particularly from outside visitors. One indicator of timing involves the famous Tel Aviv Pride Parade, a globally celebrated week long expression of LGBT progress. The event draws in up to a quarter of a million people annually, and organizers have issued a reschedule date from June 12th to the end of August.
It’s expected that the move was based on some level of coordination with the Israeli Government, and Tourism Ministers, which indicates Israel eyeing a four to five month initial phased return to travel. Currently, a ban on foreign visitors is extended until May 16th, after a series of extensions.
If, and when international travel does return to Israel, which countries receive early entry will be interesting to watch. Many countries have thus far expressed creating tourism corridors, which create bilateral openings between countries which respect each others handling of the crisis.
Tel Aviv, a key draw to Israel was on a trend of record tourism in recent years, and cities such as Eilat are now facing up to 70% unemployment with tourism in a stand still. For now, stay home and stay safe, but stay hopeful for a safe return to Israeli tourism.