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Israel's tourism industry begins gradual relaunch – some hotels given green light to open

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Hotels in Israel with ground floor rooms have been given permission to reopen for business – but only for domestic tourism.

Seen as the first step in the tourism industry’s return to activity, the decision to begin reopening the country's hotels was made at a special cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Hotels that meet the criteria for relaunch will be able to open their doors to visitors on Sunday 3 May. As only rooms on the ground floor will be allowed to accommodate guests, the move is seen as one which will particularly help smaller hotel businesses.

The government also announced that it will implement new operational guidelines – together with the Ministry of Health – for all hotels, to cover the period in which COVID-19 continues to impact Israel.

“I welcome the first step that was made today," said Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin.

"This is good news to thousands of business owners and workers in the tourism industry, who for the first time since the outbreak of the crisis, have a date set up for their return to activity.”

According to Ken Robinson CBE, chairman of the Tourism Society Policy and Advocacy Group, the move – and its results – could offer useful insight to other countries, currently considering phased reopenings of their tourism industries.

"Israel opening some hotels, ground floor only – for domestic tourists and subject to rules yet to be defined – is a pretty limited change," he said.

"It will be very interesting, however, to see and compare the tourism opening-up regulations in comparable countries – and whether any subsequent spike of infections can be controlled, so that further easing becomes practical.

"It is how and when international leisure tourism can restart that presents the major challenges."

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Hotels and accommodations in Israel with ground floor rooms have been given permission to reopen for business – but only for domestic tourism.
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