Travel Agents Appeal for Help Over Coronavirus Travel Recommendations

YERUSHALAYIM -
People wearing face masks for fear of the coronavirus at the Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday. (Avshalom Shoshani/Flash90)

It’s not just airlines that are feeling a chill in business due to coronavirus; travel agents now stand to suffer losses, after the Health Ministry earlier this week recommended that all unnecessary travel abroad be curtailed.

Israel is so far the only country to have issued such a warning, and Israelis have been paying attention; workers at Ben Gurion Airport Thursday reported that traffic was far less than usual. While airlines are being hurt, the entire travel industry is as well, with travel agents leading the pack.

Speaking to Yediot Acharonot, one travel agent said that the Ministry’s “dramatic announcement will have a major impact on the industry and the Israeli economy overall, and may put many people out of business.”

Agents said that the caution raised by the Ministry was excessive. “There’s no question that travelers need to be careful and that society needs to battle the virus, but with that the methods used must be balanced and logical. The Ministry must come up with new ideas to battle coronavirus that will not harm the Israeli tourism industry,” the agents said.

As of now, Israelis who return from a number of Asian countries – China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, South Korea, and Singapore – are required to self-isolate for at least two weeks, until it becomes clear they were not infected with coronavirus. Travel warnings have also been issued for travel to Thailand, Australia, and northern Italy, with the Health Ministry considering adding the latter two to its list of countries requiring Israelis to self-isolate upon return home.