Israel to reopen for vaccinated travellers in May

Groups of fully vaccinated tourists with negative PCR test results can travel to Israel from May 23

Israel is reopening to travellers from next month. The country will welcome tourists again this summer, with plans for the first visitors to be allowed entry in May.

From May 23, Israel will allow fully vaccinated groups of tourists to visit, according to the country's Ministry of Tourism.

Details on entry regulations for foreigners will be unveiled in the coming weeks, but a pilot programme will allow organised tour groups first entry, according to local news outlet Haaretz. 

Individual travellers will be welcomed at a later date. All will have to take a PCR test before travelling to Israel, then undergo an antibody test to prove their vaccination upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, reported the news outlet.

The relaxation of border rules comes after Israel was closed to non-citizens for more than a year. Since the global pandemic began, only Israeli citizens and a limited number of travellers with special exemption have been allowed to travel to or from the country.

A summertime hotspot

The country has one of the world's fastest Covid-19 vaccination campaigns. Israel has given at least one vaccine dose to 61.57 per cent of its population, according to Our World in Data, making it a leader in terms of inoculation pace.

Known for its culture, history and Mediterranean coastline, tourists flock to Israel for its thriving culinary scene and Dead Sea access. The country looks set to be a summertime hotspot, with speculation that it will be one of the countries included on the UK government's Green List.

According to the members of luxury hotel club Little Emperors, "the country is now favoured as one of the safest destinations to visit in summer 2021". The travel club says that 10 per cent of its members have booked travel to Israel in the summertime, and noted a 50 per cent increase in enquiries for hotels in the country, when compared to April 2020.

UAE-Israel tourism

In September 2020, the UAE and Israel signed the historic Abraham Accords in Washington. This has led to a warming of relations between the countries, with the UAE introducing kosher food rules at hotels across the country, and Israel hosting the first digital forum of the Israel Ministry of Tourism in the UAE.

Israel is also listed on Abu Dhabi's Green List, meaning that travellers flying to Abu Dhabi from Tel Aviv do not need to quarantine upon arrival.

Etihad, the national airline of the UAE, recently launched twice-weekly flights from the capital to Tel Aviv.

"Since the signing of the Abraham Accord between Israel and the UAE last summer, the two countries have worked together to embark upon a new and dynamic era of co-operation," said Mohamed Al Khaja, the UAE's first ambassador to Israel, after Etihad's first passenger flight to Tel Aviv touched down in Israel.

Low-cost airline Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will also operate flights between the two countries, with its first service scheduled to take off on Sunday.