Tourism Workers Berate ‘Out-of-Touch, Heartless’ Government

Independent business owners and workers from the tourism sector protest, calling for financial support from the Israeli government, outside Ben Gurion International Airport, on Monday. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Israeli tourism industry was outraged over a government decision to extend mandatory quarantine for vaccinated Israelis who return from abroad and update the list of foreign destinations categorized “red” due to high COVID numbers every 24 hours.

The Health Ministry decision could see the list of red countries change daily, which would make it hard for Israelis who want to travel abroad. Should their destination of choice be designated red while they are there, Israelis will be required to self-quarantine for seven full days upon returning to Israel.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Sunday that “the list of red countries will be evaluated daily and updated frequently. In the next few days, additional countries will be added to the list according to the parameters of the Health Ministry.”

In response to the decision, tourism workers held a demonstration on Monday at Ben Gurion International Airport. Tourism workers are demanding compensation for the decision that they argue will cause financial hardship for those who make their living in the sector.

Meanwhile, professional tour guides were up in arms over Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli’s remark Sunday that it would be “legitimate” to shut down the tourism sector if workers were compensated, and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman saying that tourism workers should “find new professions.”

“The mask has fallen. This government is out of touch and heartless, and doesn’t notice that tens of thousands of citizens have been left without any income. A government that doesn’t understand that it caused this. The ones who should ‘change profession’ are the failing transportation minister, whose failure citizens feel every day as they sit in traffic, and the finance minister, who leaves Israelis to their bitter fates. We are law-abiding citizens who love the country and serve as its ambassadors. As the entire economy opens up, we’re being left behind,” industry workers said.

Oded Marcus, one of the leaders of the fight to reopen air travel, said, “The incoming tourism industry employs over 200,000 people. The tourism and finance ministers closed down our jobs on July 1, 2021, and aren’t compensating us fairly! We’ll fight to survive. It’s incredible – Liberman and Bennett want to shut down a sector that contributes so much to Israel. The only one who should change professions is Liberman.”

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