Protocols and restrictions for foreign group travel have been a fluid and ever-developing situation. For instance, on August 9, due to the spread of the Delta variant, Israel added back travel restrictions for tourists from the USA and other countries. This temporarily prevented tour groups from entering. We now understand Israel will reopen to groups on either September 19 or October 1. We have groups scheduled to leave for Israel later this fall, and at this point, they are a definite Go! Please continue to check here for new developments and updates.
- What we know at this point: When the temporary quarantine requirements are lifted, tourists from approved countries (US and EU vaccines) will be required to complete a health declaration prior to arrival, have a negative PCR test up to 72 hours prior to arrival, and scan a vaccination certificate upon arrival.
- Tourists from these approved countries (US and EU vaccines) will be required to have a PCR test and a serological test upon arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. Following the test, the group will continue normally, either on the bus or to the hotel for self-isolation, until the test results arrive electronically within a few hours.
- Before their flight home, tests can be done at the airport before departure or booked by each traveler at an Israeli website: Check2fly.co.il.
- The planned outline is for both groups and individual tourists.
- The PCR tests are paid for by the passengers for a moderate fee.
Please note: The above requirements and changes in protocols is a fluid situation which can change from day to day as authorities continue to react to the Delta variant and other issues. We will do our best to keep our passengers informed with the latest information available. We look forward to Israel opening up again and to answering your questions and group booking requests. Please don’t delay as we are expecting a flood of renewed travel requests for travel to Israel with record numbers of bookings for 2022 and beyond.
As the State of Israel begins welcoming tourists again, your EHT team and our travel partners in Israel are prepared and excited to support our travel guests. The hotels we use subscribe to the highest levels of cleanliness and sanitation, and our transportation partners utilize the most up-to-date health and safety protocols available, including state-of-the-art Aura Air filtration systems on every motor coach. EHT has several groups scheduled for Israel this fall, and many more in 2022. Click here to view our upcoming Israel tours.
Debunking Israel Travel Myths and misconceptions / “Knowledge is Power”
“Israel is a dangerous place to visit” Since it’s inception as a nation, 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. Although we do, on many occasions, visit Palestinian towns such as Jericho and Bethlehem, our travel itineraries never go into an area of possible danger, including anywhere in or near Gaza.
“It is expensive to visit Israel.” Travel costs to almost any destination seem to become more expensive every year, and some destinations such as London, Paris and Tokyo are 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 consistently recognized as Israel’s largest incoming tour operator. 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 possible 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.
“Why do some tour companies include free lunches?” The old quote “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, in effect, 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 say they offer free lunches and tour members don’t realize they have already paid for these “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 the “free water” on the bus some companies advertise…an amount was already added into the tour cost. Tour hosts seldom ask EHT to include lunches, but we can do so if asked. We will simply add a fair amount to the cost of the tour as a separate item, and will not call it “free.”.
“All airlines are basically the same.” Not exactly! Airline travel in general is certainly not “glamorous” or in many ways 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 have used charter flights which typically fly older planes, offer even less service, and often have long waits at connecting airports…not a good experience! Some tour companies use flights on an airline that connects in Europe. This is usually not a problem 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, only to find it necessary to go through a long security line again after having gone through one before leaving the U.S. Large European airports such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, and Istanbul can be confusing and intimidating to even experienced travelers. That’s why we prefer nonstop flights to Israel on ELAL, American, or United from international gateways such as New York’s JFK, Newark, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto. ELAL recently added service from San Francisco, and offers limited schedules from Las Vegas and Orlando. Note: Due to COVID-19, some airlines are currently operating less flights, or have temporarily eliminated some routes.
“Some tour companies offer really good deals.” There is an old adage, “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 often advertise just the “Land Only” price without including the airfare. Admittedly, it would be difficult to quote accurate airfares on that many tour dates, however, the deception lies in the fact that these companies rarely state that the price they’re quoting is just the Land Only price. Good luck finding that information somewhere on their website. We also see advertising which excludes the “carrier-imposed fees” – formerly the fuel surcharge. This fee can easily amount to $600 or $700 for round trip flights to Greece or Israel. So the 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.