Hopeful tourists return soon; Israeli Tourism Minister

At ITB Berlin industry experts shared their insights of travel recovery over a period of time. “As Israel vaccinates its population, the tourism and hospitality sectors are reopening, allowing us to plan for the return of tourists soon,” said Israel Minister of Tourism Orit Farkash-Hacohen. Noting that Israel has already vaccinated some 80 percent of its adult population, the destination is turning it into not only an attractive destination but a healthy destination.

Minister Farkash-Hacohen summarized how the pandemic has affected Israeli tourism since March 2020. He said, “None of this of course is full compensation, but it helped during this difficult year, “she said.  “Now we are hopeful tourists can soon return, allowing the various tourism-oriented businesses to get back on their feet.”

Speaking about the impact of vaccinations on travel, the Israeli Minister shared how positive they have been domestic “with five million people already vaccinated” from Israel’s nine-million strong population. She also stressed the need to find protocols allowing international carriers and visitors to fly to and from Israel: “This is my greatest challenge at the moment, and I am working with the health and transportation ministers to gradually open Israel’s skies and allow more tourists in.”  Referencing the date things will open, the Minister said, “It will take some time, possibly a month” or so, adding she was optimistic.

“We need to find ways to open up travel,” Raki Phillips, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority said, explaining why vaccinations were key to the reopening of the international tourism industry. “Also, from a safety and security perspective. Travel has to be enjoyable.”

At the same time, Minister Sancho of Costa Rica said vaccinations are important, but that protocols regarding the health and wellbeing of employees and vacationers were just as vital. “We need to continue the important steps taken, and not forget them because of vaccinations,” he said.

“As Minister of Tourism, I would like to see more people entering with vaccinations or negative PCR tests so we have more tourists, but it is a gradual process,” Farkash-Hacohen concluded. “At the policy level, we need to balance opening the skies with protecting the public’s health.”