Thanks to COVID Vaccine, Destinations Opening Up for Israelis to Visit After Election Day

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Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport's departures hall in September 2020.
Travelers at Ben-Gurion International Airport's departures hall in September 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

The announcements by Greece and Cyprus this week that Israelis who have been vaccinated will be permitted to enter freely, add to the sense in Israel that the world is reopening to it for travel.

Many other countries are also permitting Israelis to enter without quarantining, including the Seychelles (as of March 25), the United States (only via direct flights or via Turkey; not after a layover in Europe), Georgia, Montenegro, Costa Rica, Mexico and Dubai. Travelers are advised to check regulations daily regarding every country, as they often change drastically and with little warning. Thailand, for instance, is expected to announce soon its regulations for permitting tourists over the summer.

Travelers also need to consider the health insurance issue. Ukraine, for example, requires tourists to have health insurance covering them in the case of a coronavirus infection, which not all policies cover.

Following Cyprus and Greece’s announcements, Israir and Arkia stated they would renew flights to destinations including Larnaca, Paphos, Athens, Rhodes and Korpo by next week, earlier than planned. Most flight itineraries are not yet available online for booking.

A flight to Athens for a three-day vacation next week would cost $300 via Israir, or $194 via Arkia in early April. Other destinations in Greece and Cyprus are currently being priced between $200 and $300 as well.

Greece’s regulatory change was slated to take effect Tuesday, but given that children under 16 cannot be vaccinated, the country remains closed to families with young children, who account for most of the Israelis who visit. And while Cyprus will be letting children in without making them quarantine, they’ll still be required to quarantine when returning to Israel, making the prospect of a vacation less attractive.

Georgia is also a popular vacation destination for Israelis; some 470,000 passengers passed through Ben-Gurion International Airport en route to or arriving from Georgia in 2019. A round-trip flight to Batumi or Tblisi would cost $400 via Israir next week. Vaccinated Israelis can enter freely while the unvaccinated need to produce a negative test and a second negative test three days after arriving. Flights to Dubai next week cost around $500, while flights to New York are going for $800 and flights to Seychelles are currently around $740.

Travelers should note that most countries require a negative coronavirus test conducted within 72 hours of the flight, and that tests conducted by Israel’s HMOs are not good enough, as the test results need to state the traveler’s name in English and sometimes also the passport number. Travelers also need to carefully check the regulations of their destination country, as there is no uniform policy globally regarding pandemic regulations.

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