About 25,000 tourists from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries have arrived in Israel since February without having had to go through the normal process of applying for a visa.
According to Interior Ministry's regulations, tourists from many countries including those of the former USSR, are required to obtain a visa before traveling to Israel. This process usually takes months.
Yet, the thousands of tourists that have arrived in the past six months were not required to do so. They came to Israel as part of a joint project of the Interior and Tourism Ministries aimed at attracting tourists from these countries who visit other Mediterranean states such a Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. The short-term permits are given on the spot at the border control.
For this purpose, special 24-hour (and in some cases 48-hour) visas were granted. Since the launch of the project, 25,000 tourists have arrived in Israel. Most enter the country through Turkey via Ben Gurion Airport or cross the border from Egypt through Taba.
According to the Minister of Tourism, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, there is great importance in attracting Russian tourists to Israel who are often deterred from doing so because of the need to obtain a visa. Despite the fact that the trips are short, the short stay does benefit the Israeli economy, he noted.
Reproduced with permission: Ynet