Israel to Welcome Vaccinated Travelers Starting May 23



Israel will reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists in May, becoming the latest nation to welcome visitors who receive the protective jab.

Israel, known for its robust vaccination program, will start by welcoming vaccinated group tours on May 23, the country's Ministry of Tourism shared with Travel + Leisure. That will be followed by the eventual return of fully vaccinated individual tourists, which could be as soon as July.

All visitors will be required to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test before boarding a flight to Israel, as well as an antibody test upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport to prove their vaccination status. In time, officials will look to agree on a vaccine passport with the goal of eliminating the antibody test requirement.

It wasn't immediately clear what the rules would be for children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

"We have been working to develop a plan that allows not only for the country to reopen to visitors, but also to ensure that everyone stays safe," Eyal Carlin, the tourism commissioner for North America, told T+L in a statement. "We have come so far, and it is for this reason we are adapting this proactive strategy of having a phased opening."

Currently, all travelers heading to Israel must test negative for COVID-19 with a PCR test within 72 hours of their flight or have proof of vaccination, and must quarantine upon arrival for at least 10 days, according to the U.S. Embassy in Israel. While in the past Israel has required travelers quarantine in a hotel, last month the country started experimenting with home isolation with electronic tracking bracelets.

The return of international tourists isn't the only thing to look forward to in May: Royal Caribbean plans to launch a series of vaccinated cruises that month to the Greek Isles and Cyprus from Haifa, open to Israeli residents.

In the meantime, travelers can explore Israel virtually, including a 360-degree tour of its gorgeous beaches.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.