By Nicole Jansezian, AllIsrael.com—
With COVID infections in Israel rising at a rapid pace, the government approved a last-minute restriction last week that struck another blow to the struggling tourism industry: a seven-day quarantine requirement across the board for anyone entering Israel, from almost anywhere.
In a matter of days, the cancellations came pouring in.
The new ruling – which does not specify an end date – takes the tourism industry several steps backwards on its road to recovery and essentially closes the door indefinitely on groups waiting to visit in the coming months.
One word can sum up the general sentiment of those we spoke with in the Israeli tourism industry both here and abroad: frustration.
“We have lost three groups that were booked (for August) that we are still fighting for, but that is the least of our problems. The big problem is we cannot tell our clients who have groups scheduled in the coming months what to do,” Uri Avrouskine, general manager of Sar-El Tours, told us.
“Should they come? Should they cancel? Will they get their money back? No one can tell them what will happen.”
The mandated seven-day quarantine handed down by Israel’s Corona Cabinet last week requires anyone who enters Israel – vaccinated or not, citizen or tourist – to spend seven days in isolation. Average tours to Israel are 10 days, making such a requirement impossible for groups to comply with.
“It’s a different way of saying, ‘Don’t come,’” Avrouskine said.
“The way the decision was made was terrible in that it was from one day to another,” Avrouskine said. “Nothing is well planned and it is ruining our relationship with our (Israel’s) best friends,” he said of Evangelical Christians, Sar-El’s primary clients. “Everything is now one big mess.”
After barring entry to tourists for 15 months, the industry “was hijacked into some sort of a rollercoaster that goes up and down with rumors and half truths and not really enabling anyone to plan ahead,” contends Uri Steinberg, a consultant and tourism expert.
The problem is the Ministry of Health is making all the decisions, says Steinberg, former head of the Tourism Ministry’s North and South America departments, and there is no road map for companies to follow. Continue Reading….