Israel has welcomed the first British group of vaccinated tourists since the Covid-19 outbreak, as part of its gradual reopening of borders to vaccinated international visitors.
The British group of 30 flew to Israel with British Airways for a 10-day tour. They will visit Jerusalem, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and Jaffa.
The tourists were greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by tourism ministry representatives, who escorted them through the immigration and PCR tests, recently mandated by Israeli law for all incoming passengers.
The country has been running a pilot scheme for vaccinated tour groups and it is expected that Israel will allow entry for individual vaccinated travellers as soon as July 1.
About 85% of its adult population has been inoculated and the requirement for masks to be worn indoors has been lifted.
Tourist attractions, sites, restaurants, cafes, cultural and sporting events are open, without any capacity restrictions.
Israel is one of the few destinations on the British government’s green list, so those returning to the UK do not have to quarantine.
Sharon Bershadsky, director of the Israel Tourist Office UK, said: “Israel has always been an attractive destination for British travellers, with unparalleled historic and religious sites sacred to three religions, vibrant cities, delicious food and friendly people.
“With Israel one of the few countries on the UK’s green list and with Israel set to open up further to international tourists ahead of the summer, we hope that this group will be the first of many to come holiday in Israel.”
Yael Katan, BA’s regional commercial manager in Israel, added: “We’re delighted to fly this inaugural group from the UK to Israel and hope it will be the first of many more.
“British Airways is flying daily between the UK and Israel and this pilot is an encouraging sign for vaccinated UK visitors planning a trip this summer.”