COVID19: Israel hopes to welcome Cyprus, Greece tourists in August

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Israel has targeted August 1 for when it starts welcoming tourists from neighbouring Greece and Cyprus, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday.

“We are looking now into reopening tourism, in which case Greece and Cyprus will be the first,” said Netanyahu.

He said he hoped that as of August travellers to and from Cyprus and Greece would not be required to self-quarantine – a de facto resumption of airline traffic.

Reopening Israel’s skies “depends on what’s going to happen with the pandemic, but if the numbers allow it, this is the target,” Netanyahu said in Jerusalem, during a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Israel began halting international flights in February as it placed restrictions on the economy to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Greece and Israel pledged on Tuesday to work toward a resumption of bilateral tourism in August if coronavirus precautions permit and discussed shared concerns over Turkey’s energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.

Mitsotakis, on his first trip abroad since the pandemic erupted, brought a cabinet delegation to Jerusalem in a show of confidence in mutual health measures and to promote a trilateral natural-gas consortium with Cyprus.

Greece opened its main airports to mainly EU visitors on Monday. Israel – some 1.2 million of whose citizens travelled to Greece annually in recent years – is a big market.

Cyprus also reopened its airports last week and Israel is its third-biggest market behind the UK and Russia.