Travel after COVID

Although some of the information on this page is becoming “yesterday’s news”, many are still not aware of the latest COVID-related travel news. For that reason we will continue to keep this page active as a resource for those who may not be aware of the latest developments.  

During 2022 Ed Hill Tours (EHT) celebrated our 60th year of operating Christian group travel to Israel, Greece, Jordan and other destinations. We were thrilled of course, when Israel began welcoming tourist groups again, and in November 2021 we operated and accompanied our first two groups since February 2020.  As of November 2022, EHT has operated 13 groups to Israel since travel began again and some 40 groups are already scheduled for 2023.

As always, there is no way to describe Holy Land tours other than amazing. Just being back in Israel has been amazing! All sites are open and touring the Holy Land is back to normal. Of course, the hotels, sites, restaurants, and shops have been excited to see groups return. It is great to see our long-time guides, Israeli staff, friends, and hotel and restaurant personnel we have known for years.

COVID Recap: On March 1, 2022, Israel began welcoming all foreign visitors of any age regardless of their vaccination status. This means both the vaccinated or the unvaccinated may enter. As of May 20, 2022, Israel has no longer required testing before traveling to or upon arrival…hence no quarantine period after arrival! The antigen test which had been required by the U. S. government within 24 hours of a return flight has also been eliminated. Now the last COVID requirement has been eliminated: The “Online Entry Form” requirement has now been canceled as of October 8, 2022. The lifting of these protocols and various requirements is great news!

If a traveler would develop symptoms or test positive during the tour, they may now self-quarantine in the hotel where they are staying (or any facility of their choice) until they fulfill the quarantine requirement. Additional costs incurred from any extra hotel days are the responsibility of the traveler, but these costs are typically covered by their travel and health insurance policy. Of course, protocols are subject to change, but travel to Israel and most other destinations has largely returned to normal.

Summary of current Israel entry requirements

  • As of this writing, proof of having a health insurance policy with coverage for the treatment of COVID is still required. Having this insurance is a condition to enter Israel and proof of such is shown upon departure at the airline check-in counter.
  • No testing required before your flight to Israel and no testing required at the airport upon arrival in Israel. Hence there is no quarantine period until results are received. The test formerly required by the U. S. before a return flight has also been eliminated.
  • Masks are not required on the motor coach or any other outdoor location. Some indoor locations such as medical facilities will most likely still require wearing one, and some individuals may prefer to wear a wear for personal health reasons.
  • For more information CLICK HERE to go to the Israel Tourism site. For details about the health insurance required to enter Israel, CLICK HERE.

Since Israel began welcoming tourists again, EHT has operated 14 groups, offering our usual high level of touring, professional support, and care for our travel guests. Important note: Even as the pandemic has ended, we wish to assure our guests that the hotels we use subscribe to the highest levels of cleanliness and sanitation, and our transportation partners and motor coaches utilize the most up-to-date health and safety protocols available.

Greece Travel Update. Greece began welcoming tourists in May 2021. Tourism Minister Harry Theocharis announced the country’s plan to welcome back travelers beginning on May 15, 2021. 
 
As of May 1, 2022, visitors to Greece are no longer required to present COVID vaccination certificates after the latest move to allow smooth entry into the country. From May 1, visitors won’t be required to hold EU Digital COVID Certificates (or other COVID vaccination or recovery certificates) on arrival, and can enjoy full access to museums, archaeological sites, restaurants and other culture and entertainment venues for which certificates were previously required.
 
The move came after the recommendation of the scientific committee advising the Greek government and represents the latest measure to facilitate travel to Greece following the abolishment of Passenger Locator Forms.
 
If you are a resident of the U. S. you will not need to quarantine in Greece and from May 1, 2022, no COVID-related documents are required. International passengers may be given a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival in Greece. The result is usually available within 20 minutes.
 
Greece and the Greek Isles is our second most popular destination. Check out our Steps of Paul Tours to Greece by Clicking Here.
 
What is now apparent. The desire to visit biblical and historical destinations such as Israel, Jordan or Greece has not lessened. We are available to answer questions regarding present bookings or answer your questions about organizing a future tour. Please understand that we are not a 24/7 business like an airline. Our normal office hours are 10 am to 5 pm Eastern time Monday through Friday…hours may continue to vary at this time. You may email us at tours@edhilltours or call 800.780.7801 to speak with us or leave a message. When not in our offices, we consistently check calls and emails and answer all messages promptly.
 
Ed Hill Tours has been making travel dreams come true for Christian travelers since 1962…to Israel, Jordan, Greece, Italy, and various locations in Europe. Ed Hill Tours remains dedicated to the care and safety of those who trust us to operate their travel events, and we will continue to do so with honesty, professionalism, and fairness. Don’t stop dreaming of an amazing journey in the near future.
 
Have a question? We’re here to help.
Call us at 800.780.7801
 
 
 
 

Debunking Israel Travel Myths and misconceptions / “Knowledge is Power” The following are statements or questions we have heard many times through the years.

“Israel is a dangerous place to visit.” Since it’s inception as a nation in 1948, Israel has experienced times of unrest, terror attacks and wars. Yet Israel is actually one of the safest places on earth! Most crime as we know it in the US is not prevalent or non-existent in Israel. Israeli security, both in Israel and on ELAL Israel Airlines, is considered the best in the world. Through the years EHT has taken over 50,000 travelers to Israel without incident, and to our knowledge, no tourist visiting Israel has ever been killed. We regularly visit Bethlehem and on occasion, Jericho or Hebron. These towns have proven to be very safe, but our travel itineraries never go into an area of possible danger, including most West Bank towns or Gaza.

“It is expensive to visit Israel.” The costs of travel to almost any destination become more expensive every year, and some destinations such as London, Paris and Tokyo are indeed very expensive. However, compared to those and many other destinations, Israel is still considered a bargain. Prices charged by different tour companies can vary widely as we’ll explain in more detail later in this blog.

“Large tour companies have better tours.” That’s similar to comparing the overall quality of a hotel based only on the size of the building. In comparing tour companies specializing in Christian group travel, EHT is a moderate-sized company. Our travel partner and land operator in Jerusalem is one of Israel’s largest incoming tour operators. Quality tours are based on many factors, and being a larger company is certainly no guarantee of the best travel experience, travel product, or personal service. For example, we know of larger travel companies that consistently use older buses, lower level guides and drivers, and lower quality hotels. Why? Because tour companies save a considerable amount of money operating that way. We use only hotels rated Superior 4-Star and 5-Star in excellent locations. We use only the latest motor coaches, and our guides are experts in the Christian tour, among the most requested in Israel, and have worked with us for many years.

“The hotel you stay in doesn’t really matter since you only sleep there.” Even if true, just sleeping in a 2 or 3-Star hotel is not a pleasant experience (think bedbugs)…however groups do much more than just sleep at a hotel. With a typical touring schedule, groups are back at their hotel from around 5 pm until 8 am the next morning. That includes having dinner and breakfast, and the better the hotel, the better the food and service. For groups desiring the experience, we can place them in a kibbutz or even a Bedouin tent, but typically we only use nothing less than Superior 4-Star and 5-Star Deluxe hotels.

“Some tour companies include free lunches.” The old saying “there is no free lunch” could not be truer than in this case. The cost of the “free lunch” some companies advertise is simply built into the overall tour price. When lunches are prepaid, every tour member pays the same amount no matter what they eat, if they bring their own lunch, or choose not to eat. Yet the tour company can advertise “free lunches” and tour members don’t realize they have already paid for these so-called “free” lunches in their tour cost. In addition, the tour company uses the same restaurants regularly and typically receives a “kickback” for doing so. The same applies to “free water” on the bus some companies advertise…an amount was already added into the tour cost. Tour hosts seldom ask us to include lunches, but we can do so if requested. We will simply add a fair amount to the cost of the tour as a separate item, but we will not advertise it as “free lunches.” 

“All airlines are basically the same.” Not exactly! Airline travel in general is certainly not “glamorous” or as simple as it once was. Most airlines put as many seats as possible on their planes to produce more revenue. Of course, overall comfort, food, and service is markedly better in Business Class for those willing to spend more. Many international flights also offer “Premium Class”, which is priced between Business Class and Main Cabin. To offer lower pricing, some tour companies will use charter flights which usually means older planes, less service, and long waits at connecting airports…not a good experience! Some tour companies use flights on an airline that connects in Europe. This may only amount to an inconvenience for an individual, but for a group it can be a nightmare! Groups can find themselves at the connecting airport, with no escort, and left to find their way around a vast, crowded foreign airport on their own. Then they must go through a long security line after having gone through one before leaving the U.S. Large European airports such as London Heathrow, Paris/CDG, Frankfurt, and Istanbul can be confusing and intimidating to even experienced travelers. That’s why we prefer nonstop flights to Israel on ELAL, American, United or Delta from gateways such as New York/JFK, Newark, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Before COVID, ELAL had added service from San Francisco, and limited schedules from Las Vegas and Orlando. Many flights were necessarily cut back or eliminated and some have still not been reinstated. 

“Some tour companies offer really good deals.” The old adage states, “If it sounds too good to be true…It Is!” Prospective tour hosts should be aware of deceptive advertising and “come on” pricing. Some tour companies offer tours on dozens of dates a year and advertise just the “Land Only” price without including the airfare. Admittedly, it is difficult to quote accurate airfares on that many tour dates. However, the deception lies in the fact that these companies do not plainly state that the quoted price is just the “Land Only” price, and if stated somewhere on their website, it is usually not easy to find. We also see advertising which excludes the “carrier-imposed fees” – formerly called the fuel surcharge. This fee has been $600 or $700 for round trip flights to Israel or Greece, but may increase substantially with the current higher fuel prices. So prices stated by some tour companies in their LARGE PRINT are NOT the total prices you will actually pay. Although this type of advertising is classic bait and switch, it is easy to be deceived if you do not read the fine print very carefully.