On Sunday 20th June, Israel welcomed the first British group of vaccinated tourists since the COVID-19 outbreak, as part of its process of gradually reopening borders to vaccinated international visitors.

The British group, flying to Israel with British Airways, consists of 30 people and will be in Israel for a period of 10 days, visiting places such as Jerusalem, Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, The Dead Sea, Tel Aviv & Jaffa. Upon their arrival at the terminal, the tourists were greeted by Israel Ministry of Tourism representatives, who escorted them through the routine immigration and recently added PCR tests mandated by Israeli law for all incoming passengers.

The country is in the process of running a pilot for vaccinated tour groups, in order to determine the best way to reopen its skies to vaccinated foreign visitors – while maintaining the country’s successful fight against COVID-19. Due to the successful programme thus far, it is expected that Israel will allow entry for individual vaccinated travellers as soon as 1st July.

Israel is a world leader in the vaccination rollout, with some 85% of its adult population inoculated. As a result, it has curbed the spread of COVID-19 and recently announced that the requirement for masks to be worn indoors has been lifted, marking the end of one of the last major coronavirus restrictions remaining in Israel.

At present, all tourist attractions, sites, restaurants, cafes, cultural and sporting events are open, without any corona-related capacity restrictions, indoors or outdoors. Israelis have not had to wear masks outdoors since April. As long as tourists can prove they have antibodies upon entry into Israel, the same rules will apply for them too.

Sharon Bershadsky, Director of the Israel Tourist Office UK said: “We are delighted to welcome the first organised British tourist group to visit Israel in over a year. 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, British Airways’ Regional Commercial Manager in Israel, said: “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. We await details about its expansion to individual travellers with great interest.”