Israel is preparing to welcome tourists by investing in infrastructure. The Holy Places of Jerusalem are gradually reopening.

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With its borders closed to international travel as a result of the pandemic, Israel has spent its last year improving its infrastructure, ready to welcome tourists in the best possible way as soon as restrictions are lifted. The first test of all the investments made by the authorities in Jerusalem was the period of the Catholic Passover, celebrated without quarantine, but with the observance of minimum measures of social distancing. 

How did the Catholic Easter celebrated celebrated in a semi-normality?

Catholic Christians in the Holy Land celebrated Easter and Good Friday this year in a completely different atmosphere than last year. Last year, Jerusalem was under strict lockdown, and the sacred rituals during Easter were performed by small groups of priests, often behind closed doors. Although there was still a lack of mass pilgrimages that usually took place in the Holy Week before Easter, this year religious places in Jerusalem were opened to a limited number of believers.

Moreover, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built on the site where Christians believe that Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead, was opened to visitors. After the morning prayer service, Jesus' route along Via Dolorosa was partially rebuilt.

"Religious sites will reopen completely, but with caution and gradually", Said Wadie Abunassar, counselor of church leaders in the Holy Land. "In normal years, we urge people to come out. Last year I told people to stay home… This year we were somehow silent and urged caution".

Other investments made in order to reopen tourism

Renovation of the Tower of David

David's Tower is just one of the fantastic sites in the world. The complex is undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and conservation project and will be the first time this symbol of Jerusalem has undergone a massive conservation treatment. The old fortress, built to defend the city, will become accessible for the first time with elevators and ramps.

Accessibility of the old town

The Old City of Jerusalem has continued its plan to make the city more accessible to all. For the first time in history, the narrow paths and picturesque alleys of Jerusalem have undergone a transformation to make them accessible to wheelchair users, wheelchairs and special emergency vehicles.

New hotel openings

There are a number of new hotels ready to welcome tourists, including the Six Senses Shaharut hotel which will officially open in the Arava Valley in the Negev desert. This refined hotel offers 58 luxurious suites and villas with stunning desert views. For city travelers, Soho House is set to open in Tel Aviv in the spring of 2021 in the historic Jaffa district. With 24 rooms, a terrace and an outdoor pool, tourists can enjoy a small boutique experience from a renowned chain of hotels with locations around the world.

All this is happening in the context of the reopening of domestic tourism, in accordance with the restrictions and decisions of national authorities. Entry into hotels, cultural and sporting events, gyms and studios, swimming pools and places of worship is allowed only to holders of green badges. Those eligible for the green badge, issued by the Ministry of Health, are either at least one week after the booster, or have contracted the disease. The green badge, with its unique QR code, must be presented either in digital format or printed, together with the holder's identity card, at the entrance to these units.

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