Tel Aviv, October 24 (Reuters) – Tourists hoping to visit Jerusalem or Tel Aviv after Israel’s announcement last week that it will open to some vaccinated foreign travelers should read the fine print before booking, local hoteliers say.
The new rules, which will take effect on November 1 ahead of the Christmas season, allow individual tourists who have received vaccines against COVID-19 to enter but not if more than six months have passed since their last dose, with a few exceptions.
This mourned the excitement among hoteliers in hopes of some improvement around 20 months after Israel banned most foreigners from stopping the spread of the corona virus.
“How many tourists in the world have received reinforcements or are they sitting for a period of six months after their second dose?” This is what the director general of the Israel Hotels Association, Yael Danieli, said.
“Even if both parents in the family are vaccinated, their children under the age of 12 are not, so they usually cannot come to Israel.”
Israel has offered a third dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Jab to all residents over the age of 12. Other countries, including the US, have started Providing vaccine cheerleaders But in many cases only for the elderly or people with basic medical conditions.
This means that many future travelers whose last ration was before May 1 cannot enter Israel.
Hotel owners in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Nazareth and Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank say they have not yet seen a large increase in bookings.
The entry rules also apply to visitors wishing to visit the West Bank as Israel controls all border crossings. Tourists entering Israel can usually also travel to Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns.
“It’s a great step to get started, but I do not expect large numbers until next year,” said Joey Kanavati, manager of the Alexander Hotel in Bethlehem. “Right now we just want to stop the bleeding, stop digging into our savings.”
Tourism fell by more than 80% in 2020 after reaching a peak of 4.55 million visitors in 2019, which contributed $ 7.2 billion to the Israeli economy and strengthened Bethlehem, which is dependent on tourism.
The new rules, pending ratification, include some exemptions.
Admission will be given to travelers, including children, who have recovered from COVID-19 in the six months preceding them. Anyone who recovers earlier will be accepted even if they have received at least one vaccine dose approved by the World Health Organization.
In recent months, Israel has allowed small groups of vaccinated tourists to enter. The new rules exempt such groups from the six-month requirement, as long as members perform PCR or antigen tests every 72 hours for the first two weeks of their stay.
Danieli calls on the government to apply similar rules to individual tourists.
“We just want to make it easier for tourists, so they will come back. We can not say how many will be able to come up with these rules.”
Report by Rami Job; Another report by Stephen Sher; Edited by Alison Williams
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