Israel tourism board proposes mid-2021 reopening

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The Israel Ministry of Tourism has prepared a work plan for bringing back tourists in the middle of 2021.

The plan includes adaptation to the corona era in all areas covered by the ministry’s activities – marketing, infrastructure and the tourist experience.

The year 2020, which began with optimism for another record-breaking year for incoming tourist arrivals to Israel and a continuation of the momentum of record highs in recent years, ended with the skies closed and a ban on incoming tourists, for the first time in Israel.

This year, about 850,000 tourists entered Israel – a decrease of 81.3% compared to last year. The tourism industry, which enjoyed revenues of tens of billions of shekels, was hit hardest by the corona crisis. Nearly 200,000 families employed in tourism lost their livelihood, and some even lost their life’s work.

The Israel Ministry of Tourism, which is responsible for the industry that serves as an engine of growth for the economy, spearheaded a series of moves aimed at preserving the tourist infrastructure, both physical and marketing, to prepare and be ready for the day after the pandemic.

Minister of Tourism, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, said: “The past year has dealt a severe blow to the tourism industry. Such a year should be used to strengthen and build infrastructure, work plans and programs that strengthen the industry for the moment when it can reopen. Despite the difficulties, we were able to implement significant plans that helped the economy during this period, including the green islands outline, a NIS 300 million grant for hoteliers, early opening of tzimmerim (B&Bs), a touring program with licensed guides, a personal security program in hotels and more. And now we are approaching the New Year with new plans.

“In the next year, we will develop the master plan for the tourism industry, synchronizing between projects and creating a holistic approach at the national level. This, with a change in the implementation of infrastructure projects in an alternative to government companies. We will soon forward the monies for financing projects to the various authorities who have submitted requests. We are already working together with the Ministry of Health on an exit plan for the tourism industry. The plan will create certainty and it will operate under the principle that whoever was most affected in previous times will be among the first to open as we exit lockdown. Together with all this, we are working on a plan to reduce costs that will benefit both owners and consumers. A lot of work still lies ahead of us, we will find the right balance between the economy and the virus and we will give breathing space to the various sectors that have been affected in the industry.”

Ministry of Tourism Director, General Amir Halevi, said: “The year 2020 continued the tourism records of the previous two years and there was an expectation that we would welcome, for the first time in the history of the country, the five millionth tourist. Instead, the world stopped, and we moved into survival mode for the entire industry and a change in the activities of the ministry to maintain both physical infrastructure and the excellent human resources in the tourism industry. Thanks to the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light of day, we are preparing tailored work plans and various tools for bringing back incoming tourism. We hope that in the coming months we will once again witness incoming tourism traffic, which is critical to employment and an important engine in the Israeli economy.”

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