With the borders closed to international travel as a result of the pandemic, Israel has spent the last year improving its infrastructure, ready to welcome back tourists in the best way possible as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted.
With a range of new hotels, exciting projects, attractions and updates to historical sites, discover why Israel is bound to be at the top of travel wish lists as soon as travel returns.
New hotel openings
There are a number of exciting new hotel openings in Israel ready to welcome back tourists, including the Six Senses Shaharut hotel which will officially open in the Arava Valley of the Negev Desert. This exquisite hotel features 58 luxurious and sustainable suites and villas, boasting gorgeous views of the desert. This resort is bound to be at the top of the list for many travellers, with an Earth Lab, camel stables, spa, and an authentic Bedouin dining experience, as well as off-roading, mountain climbing, mountain biking, rappelling, and so much more to explore.
For city travellers, Soho House is due to open up in Tel Aviv in the spring of 2021 in the historic Jaffa neighbourhood. With 24 bedrooms, terrace, and outdoor pool, tourists can enjoy a small, boutique experience from a renowned hotel chain with locations around the world.
Tower of David renovation
The Tower of David is just one of the many sites of interest that is being renovated and upgraded while tourists have been away. The complex is undergoing a multi-million-dollar renewal and conservation project, which will be the first time that the iconic citadel, the symbol of Jerusalem, will undergo massive conservation treatment in close to fifty years. The ancient citadel, built to defend the city, is for the first time going to become accessible with elevators and ramps.
Old City accessibility
The Old City of Jerusalem has continued its project to make the city more accessible to all. For the first time in history, the narrow paths and picturesque alleys of Jerusalem have undergone a transformation to make them accessible to wheelchair users, carts and special emergency vehicles.
With millions of tourists and residents usually crowding the alleys and each step requiring individual care and attention, the project is due to take a number of years before it is complete, However, with the lockdown restrictions emptying the streets of Jerusalem, this has made it easier to complete the work more quickly, taking advantage of the quiet streets.
Other improved accessibility features include the renovation of public services, placing directional signs to the main sights with descriptions on billboards, the replacement of stone cladding and highlighting the findings of historical or archaeological owners in public spaces.
Royal Caribbean Cruises launch
Royal Caribbean’s highly anticipated, brand-new ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will begin sailing from Israel for the first time in May. The global cruise line will offer travellers a combination of 3 to 7-night escapes on a roundtrip from Haifa, Israel, including visits to idyllic isles and destinations in the Mediterranean, including Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Athens, Greece and Limassol, Cyprus.
The new developments come as the domestic tourism sector is slowly re-opening in Israel under coronavirus restrictions and guidelines. The exit plan is based on the Purple Badge and the Green Badge outline.
Entry to hotels, cultural and sports events, gyms and studios, swimming pools and places of worship is allowed only to Green Badge holders. Those eligible for the green badge, which is issued by the Health Ministry, are either at least a week after the second coronavirus vaccine or have recovered from the disease. The green badge, with its unique QR code, must be presented either in digital or print form, together with ID, at the entrance to these establishments.
Sharon E. Bershadsky, director of Israel Government Tourist Office in UK said: “Like all countries around the world, not being able to welcome tourists to our beautiful country has been a challenging aspect of the pandemic. However, we have used this time to take advantage of the quieter streets and put plans in motion that will improve the ‘Israel experience’ for tourists as soon as they can return.”