Israel is a country of pilgrimage for the three main religions of the world. It is a country where locals and those visiting have diverse political, cultural and religiously opinions. These generally reflect the cultural or religious belief of the person you are talking to. When travelling on tours please be aware that cultural sensitivities and attitudes of those on the tours, and those operating the tours may differ from those you personally have.
The majority of sights visited on tours have religious significance to more than one religion and denomination. The tours are generally non-denominational.
Visa procedure on entry into Israel – Electronic Gate Pass
It is essential that clients thinking of visiting Iran, Lebanon or Syria do not have a stamp showing entry into Israel.
For passengers who wish not to have their passports stamped with an Israel visa, Israel authorities have developed the “Electronic Gate Pass” as a substitute for the visa stamp. With the press of a button, a card is printed at the Border Control station and includes the principle details of the traveller as in the first page of the passport. Such details are picture, full name, date of entrance and type of visa.
The form may not be printed automatically by the agent in charge at the border control booth, so it is important that clients specifically ask for the card to be issued if they do not wish to have their passport stamped.
The Electronic gate pass is available at Ben Gurion Airport and at the various land crossings into Israel.
The card is a proof of tourist status and must be retained at all time by the tourist while in Israel.
It allows tourists to purchase goods and be exempt from VAT. When planning a purchase, the card must be shown (but not handed in) in order to receive tourist privileges such as return of VAT for hotel services, car rentals as well as at specially registered duty free shops throughout the country.
If for any reason you do not meet your transfer representative, please approach the “SMILE” office which is located behind the information counter in the baggage reclaim hall. Please do not leave the baggage reclaim hall or pass through Customs before you meet our representative, as once you are outside it is very difficult to locate you.
Smile Airport Assistance: 972-3-975 4020
West Bank and Occupied Territories
Checkpoints and crossing into the West Bank and Occupied Territories: There are some travel restrictions in place in Israel, Sometimes access to attractions or cities may be restricted or limited by the security forces. These situations are outside the control of the operator and in the event of such circumstances they will endeavour to offer an alternative or reschedule a tour.
Israeli guides and drivers may not be allowed to enter Bethlehem. Tours are generally operated by locals who also own their own local shops. We are reliant on using the locals for the tours and therefore spending part of the tour in a local merchant shop is part of the experience.
Old Jerusalem – Due to parking and road restrictions in Old Jerusalem transfers and sightseeing coaches have limited access. You may be required to walk a short distance to meet tours or transfers.
Hotels and Services in Israel :
Although Israel is considered a First World country, the standard of hotels and service especially in the tourist and first class categories are more reflective of the region. Breakfasts may be buffet or middle eastern breakfast (more like a continental breakfast with egg, bread and cheese). The demands on infrastructure in these regions are quite high and may lead to issues relating to maintenance or reliability of supply. Hotel staff whilst efficient may appear brusk and unwelcoming in comparision to other destinations.
Please note that Israel coach tours may operate with clients staying in different hotels in each location. People on the tours may also have different inclusions.
Hotels on Coach Tours:
Please use the hotel information on coach tours as a guide. In some cases these hotels are substituted for alternatives of the same or higher standard without notice.
Day tours in Israel
Most day tours in Israel operate from both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Depending on which direction the tour is travelling you may have an early start. Transportation between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem may be with a driver only.
Border Crossing Procedures
For full details on border crossing procedures please refer to the Innovative Travel Notes. Unsure you have some hard currency on hand to pay departure and or arrival taxes.
The Allenby Bridge Border Crossing from Jordan or Israel is the most difficult and inconsistent border crossing in the region. This border crossing may take between 1-3+ hours depending on the time and day of travel. This may cause problems in finding the transfer drivers as although they are prearranged drivers are limited in the time they are able to wait at the border.
If you are more than 90 minutes at the border it is important to contact the transfer driver on the number provided in your documentation to reconfirm the drivers location as they are unaware if you have already passed through immigration.
Modest dress is required for entrance to holy sites – Men: Long pants, Women – skirt or long pants and shoulders covered.