Israel has some of the strictest border restrictions in the world and could be waiting until a vaccine to reopen its borders for tourism.
The latest push from the Israeli government to secure a vaccine is giving new hope to residents and travelers.
Following the encouraging progress made by Pfizer Inc. towards a vaccine for Covid-19, Israel has moved quickly to secure 8 million doses of the vaccine once it is made available to the public.
The 8 millions doses of the vaccine, which is administered in two shots, were ordered by Israel on Friday. It is enough to vaccinate around half of the population. However, it’s not the only deal the country has signed.
Along with the contract with Pfizer Inc, Israel has also signed contracts with Moderna Inc. and Arcturus to provide several million more doses of vaccination if they pass their trials. Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are both further down the line with their testing; Moderna is in Phase 3 of test and Pfizer’s is in Phase 2/3. Arcturus’ remains in Phase 1/2 and has already reached an agreement with Singapore to provide vaccines when it is ready.
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has also stated publicly that he is currently negotiating deals with other companies, yet didn’t name them. He said “The cost of buying vaccines is negligible, compared to the cost of not bringing them. The cost of throwing money in the trash, if the vaccines are unsuccessful, is minimal compared to not having vaccines.”
Israel’s Tourism Woes
Like many countries around the world, Israel is feeling the effects of Covid-19 on its tourism industry. Its tourist numbers have dwindled, as September saw a 96% fall in the number of tourists entering the country. In terms of economic cost, the Tourism Ministry reported last month that Covid-19 has contributed to a loss of 12.1B NIS (USD $3.6B) since the start of 2020. By moving to vaccinate the population, the levels of domestic tourism will increase, resulting in an easing the pressures many businesses are facing in the face of severe tourist reductions. Israel has made moves to try and support hotels that have been affected by the pandemic and has made grants of up to 300m NIS ($89M USD) available.
Israel has introduced several different initiatives to stem the tide of the pandemic on its shore. Eilat, a popular resort city on the Gulf of Aqaba, has been declared as a special tourist area known as a “green island”, along with hotel complexes on the Dead Sea. According to the ministry, these areas were selected due to their relative remoteness and lack of local residential population.
Entrance to such areas are allowed on the proviso that the domestic travellers show a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 48 hours before arrival. Providing that the introduction of green islands progresses without a hitch, the Tourism Ministry is hoping that other businesses that aren’t hotels will be able to follow suit and open up in their wake, helping to ease the burdens on many businesses that are tourist-dependent.
The Tourism Ministry has offered free tours to those travelling in the country in a bid to further stimulate domestic tourism.
Current Travel Situation
Israel has imposed strict restrictions on entrance to people from overseas. Foreigners will have little luck in entering the country for a holiday, as the state has allowed only those who meet certain criteria, such as for education or to be with a spouse, to be considered.
Those who make the trip from a ‘red list’ country must then quarantine in a designated government hotel or self-isolate at home, whilst those who arrive from a ‘green list’ country do not have to undergo a period of quarantine.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories