How is Israel ready to open up its borders to tourists once more - ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine finds out
This summer the safest Mediterranean beaches might well be found in Israel.
That’s because the majority of locals congregating on them have been fully vaccinated and the tourists who join them will have been too.
The UK and Israel are poised to announce a mutual travel corridor that is likely to open on May 23, with Israel expected to be on the green list of countries the government is set to announce on Friday.
This will mean Brits returning from Israel – and Israelis visiting the UK – won’t be required to quarantine.
Israel is expected to reciprocate by allowing organised tour groups of vaccinated Brits to enter the country without having to quarantine.
The Israeli government are allowing only tour groups to start with because they are easier to monitor than individuals, although if all goes well individual tourists will probably be allowed in from July.
This is a step change for Israel, where a ban on foreigners entering the country has been in effect for more than a year.
Israel’s mass vaccination programme has been a huge success. The government paid Pfizer way over the odds to get vaccines here in volume and fast.
That decision looks all the more prudent with the news on Thursday that research from Israel shows both doses provide more than 95% protection against infection, serious illness and death.
While it also has beaches on the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and the Sea of Galilee, it’s the beaches of the Med that most tourists will flock to. Sunshine is guaranteed and in general the water is crystal clear.
For those who tire of lounging on a beach, a visit to Jerusalem, and particular the Old City, is a must. This is a small country and most of the places that should be on your list, including Bethlehem and Nazareth, can be done in a day trip.
Tel Aviv, in particular, has vibrant nightlife. Having fun is expensive though, with hotels, food and alcohol costing London prices.
Billboards have just gone up in Piccadilly Circus promoting Israel as this year’s summer holiday destination.
It seems vaccines have unlocked the door to the Holy Land.