In shadow of COVID, Tourism Ministry to provide free 'open air' tours

There will be around 1,600 free tours available over the course of the month • "Go out for a walk and thereby help the guides and the tourism industry,” tourism minister says

Park Hama'ayanot (photo credit: ANAT BEN-YEHOSHUA)
Park Hama'ayanot
(photo credit: ANAT BEN-YEHOSHUA)
The Tourism Ministry will be offering free guided tours of nature reserves, national parks, heritage sites and cities amid the coronavirus pandemic, in an effort to revitalize the tourism sector.
Some 1,600 tours can be taken between now and March 26, and will be available during Passover. 
Municipalities such as Holon, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Tel Aviv, Mitzpe Ramon, Kibbutz Hatzerim, Sderot, Beersheba, Daliat el-Carmel, Kfar Rama, Zichron Yaacov, Beit Jann, Tiberias and Beit She'an will be participating in the initiative.
“We have allocated NIS 10 million for free guided tours for the general public," said Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen. "Now, as the tourism sector returns to activity, I am pleased to announce the resumption of the tours.
"The guides have suffered a severe blow during the corona crisis and this initiative was designed to give them and the public air to breathe," she added. "We recently expanded the initiative to fund entry fees, not just to national parks, but also to attractions across the country and in cities, in order to provide financial assistance to the attractions sector which has also been severely damaged."
"In addition, we have created an outline that will allow domestic tourism agents to book buses and shuttles as part of the initiative, which will help the badly damaged transportation industry and allow groups to return to touring the country," Farkash-Hacohen concluded. "Go out for a walk and thereby help the guides and the tourism industry.”
The tours are free but require advanced registration in accordance with Health Ministry regulations.
There will also be free entry to participating national parks and reserves, as well as attractions within these areas.
Those wishing to stay overnight and make the day trip into a two-day trip will be able to book guest houses through the ministry, helping local businesses while assisting the tourism industry.
Special needs groups will be offered a set of tours that can accommodate them.