Israel to offer free guided tours in new Tourism Ministry initiative

As the tourism ministry tries to recuperate, NIS 10m. have been allocated to providing free tours throughout the country.

Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen (photo credit: TOURISM MINISTRY)
Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen
(photo credit: TOURISM MINISTRY)
The Tourism Ministry has allocated NIS 10 million for free guided tours of nature reserves, national parks and cities, run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and in collaboration with tour guides to encourage tourism.
The tours will take place every day and will be suitable for single visitors and groups alike. Group transport will not be provided as it usually is, but rather visitors will have to arrive independently due to restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. The Tourism Ministry announced that transportation may be funded in future investments.
"The quality tour guide sector was severely affected by the corona crisis and the resulting closure of incoming tourism," Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said following the announcement. "Ever since I took office, I have been thinking of ways to help them. I am pleased to announce the launch of this cooperation with nature reserves and local authorities that will both initiate free tours for the general public, as well as offering assistance, even if partially, to the tour guide sector."
The tours organized by the Tourism Ministry will be led by qualified officials who will act in accordance with the restrictions businesses with a purple ribbon are required to follow.
In addition, tour companies and guides were given permission to return to guiding for a fee with groups of up to 19 people.
As the coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the tourism sector, a range of benefits has been offered to tour guides to help them get through the pandemic, including the aforementioned return to work, as well as: to come work as tour guides for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority; teaching in schools in cooperation with the Education Ministry; receiving unemployment benefits for self-employed guides, as well as tax benefits for those with large vehicles.
As mentioned, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a serious blow to tourism around the world. In Israel, the tourism industry lost NIS 12.1 billion since the beginning of 2020 due to the health regulations. September alone, in fact, say a 96% drop in the number of tourists entering the country.
In contrast, the tourism industry reached record highs right before the coronavirus pandemic hit the world. According to a survey by the Tourism Ministry, 94.4% of tourists ranked their visit to Israel as good to excellent, over half of which stayed in a hotel or holiday village. At the time, NIS 23 billion was generated in revenue from tourism.
"The cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism is strategic for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority," said Israel Nature and Parks Authority CEO Shaul Goldstein. "The new agreement will assist tour guides and the entire tourism industry and will encourage trips all over the country, including nature reserves and national parks."
Hagay Hacohen, Cody Levine contributed to this report.