Israel plans to reopen to vaccinated tourists in Nov, hopes to attract many from the UAE
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Israel plans to reopen to vaccinated tourists in Nov, hopes to attract many from the UAE

Israel plans to reopen to vaccinated tourists in Nov, hopes to attract many from the UAE

Israel is hoping that its pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will serve as a platform to attract visitors

Israel expects to reopen the country to vaccinated tourists starting from next month, and hopes to attract several travellers from the UAE, a senior official has said.

“We have already started to operate with groups – it’s right now mainly for tour operators and it’s worked very well,” said Amir Halevi, director-general of Israel’s Tourism Ministry.

While the country has mostly worked with smaller groups of roughly 20-30 people, Halevi said the process of restarting tourism on a mass scale will be gradual to ensure safety

Israel suspended the entry of international tourists in March 2020 to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. In May this year, the country had started to permit small tour groups, but it again closed its borders in August due to the spread of the Covid-19 delta variant.

The initiative was restarted in September, although only vaccinated groups from non-red list countries are allowed into Israel.

While the UAE and Israel signed a bilateral visa-waiver plan last year, the agreement was delayed in January due to the pandemic. Last week, ahead of the official opening of the Israeli pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020, Israeli officials confirmed that the UAE visa waiver for its nationals will take effect from October 10 for the purposes of tourism and business.

“But a visa is required for the purposes of education, work, volunteering and visiting for religious purposes,” the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Twitter.

While thousands of tourists from Israel have already visited the UAE, Halevi said he also expects incoming travel to grow significantly from the UAE.

“I think that for tourists that will come from the UAE, we will see very strong growth year-after-year because we have a wonderful product. It’s a combination of Israel being a ‘startup nation’ as well as all the holy places. The people in Israel are also waiting to meet the people from the UAE,” he stated.

“And we have Kosher food, and on the cultural and historical and religious side, Israel is going to be a very popular destination for tourists from the UAE.”

Halevi also anticipates air travel capacity between the countries to increase.

“There is huge potential from the UAE. And the Israelis will also continue to travel – they love shopping here. Even the smaller flights will not be enough – they will need to have a bigger capacity,” he said.

While Israel does not offer visa-waivers for all expat UAE residents, authorities are looking at making the process easier for those with certain visa stamps [such as those who have US/EU visas].

Israel is hoping that its pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will serve as a platform to attract visitors and also clarify any questions they have.

“We want to show that we are open – it doesn’t matter who you are, we are welcoming everyone. And we want to show the similarity and how much have in common with this region. Tourism is the real bridge for peace. Only by visiting and meeting each other and learning – that’s the way to take out your fears,” Halevi added.

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