Israel has set out its intention to allow organised groups of tourists that have been vaccinated to enter the country from May 23.

The ministers of tourism and health have agreed on a framework for the opening of Israel to foreign tourists after more than a year of border closures.

In the first stage, groups will be allowed in under guidelines which are yet to be published, but an outline says a limited number of groups will be allowed to arrive from May 23. The number is expected to be increased based on the health situation.

Individual travellers will be allowed into Israel in the second stage of its reopening, with health considerations determining the timeline.

All visitors will be required to undergo a PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel, and a serological test to prove their vaccination upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport.

In the meantime, discussions will continue with various countries to reach agreements for vaccine-certificate validation, so as to cancel the need for the serological test.

A detailed outline will be released in the upcoming days, the Israel Tourist Office said.

Health minister Yuli Edelstein said: “Israel is the first vaccinated country, and the citizens of Israel are the first to enjoy this result. After opening the economy, it is time to allow tourism in a careful and calculated manner. Opening the tourism is important for one of the fields most hurt during the Covid year. We will continue to look at easing regulations in accordance to the health situation.”

Tourism minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen added: “It is time that Israel’s unique advantage as a safe and healthy country start to assist it in recovering from the economic crisis, and not only serve other countries’ economies.

“Only opening the skies for international tourism will truly revive the tourism industry, including restaurants, hotels, sites, tour guides, busses and others looking to work and provide for their families. I will continue to work for the full opening of tourism to Israel, which will greatly assist the Israeli economy and create workplaces for many Israelis.”

Sharon Bershadsky, director of the Israel Tourist Office UK, said: “After a long, forced break, we are delighted to take the first step in opening our borders to international visitors.

“We look forward to welcoming all visitors to Israel as soon as it is safe to do so.”