The Current Coronavirus Situation (January 24, 2021).
Israel today announced that it will shut down all air travel to Israel until January 31, 2021 to combat new strains of the virus. To date, Israel has remarkably distributed the vaccine to over 40 percent (40%) of its 9 million citizens using primarily the 2-dose Pfizer vaccine. Israel's rapid delivery poises the country to be one of the first 'green' countries in the world to renew tourism. The Ministry of Tourism and Operator's Association (of which Samson Tours is a member) are staging the grounds for a renewal of tourism in April, which will likely occur after the major Jewish holidays.
See New York Times article: In Israel's Early Vaccine Data Offers Hope.
The Current Coronavirus Situation (December 23, 2020).
Israel today announced a 3rd national lockdown today, not allowing any foreign travelers from abroad to visit, effective for at least the next 10 days.
The Current Coronavirus Situation (July 17, 2020).
Currently, there is no travel to Israel. All of Israel's borders are closed to foreign tourists and any arrival will require a 14-day minimum quarantine. There is a new current wave of COVID spreading in Israel and all restaurants, beaches and public gatherings are closed.
We have processed all refunds requested to-date.
The Coronavirus Situation (March 30, 2020).
This update in from the US Embassy in Jerusalem:
Event: U.S. citizens who live in or seek to travel to the United States should arrange for immediate departure to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain in place for an indefinite period. If you are a U.S. citizen currently in the West Bank who lives in or seeks to travel to the United States, please contact the Embassy by email at JerusalemACS@state.gov for further instructions before making your travel arrangements.
Until further notice, all land borders between Israel and Jordan remain closed. The Government of Jordan has suspended all inbound and outbound flights. Most checkpoints between Jerusalem and Bethlehem and its surrounding suburbs have been closed until further notice. Additional checkpoints might be closed on short notice. All travelers, including U.S. citizens, passing through any open checkpoints between Israel and the West Bank might be subject to increased scrutiny and significant delays. Further checkpoint information is available here but it may not always be up to date: http://www.cogat.mod.gov.il/en/pages/homepage.aspx.
As of March 29, the only available commercial flight departing Ben Gurion Airport to the United States is on United Airlines, but it is subject to change at any time. El Al announced a temporary suspension of flights from March 26 to April 4. To the best of our knowledge, there are no flights available at this time from Ben Gurion Airport to other destinations which may provide connections to the United States. Further flight cancellations and suspensions can occur with little or no warning, making availability limited and unpredictable. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe. Please check the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem COVID-19 website for future updates.
The Embassy is not able to assist with arranging commercial travel options. If your travel has been disrupted or to make travel arrangements, please contact your airline: United Airlines (Local: 03-5116787, U.S.: 18002258610) or El Al (Local: 03-9771111).
Please check the U.S. Embassy Jerusalem COVID-19 website for future updates and enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the U.S. Embassy can contact you with updated information and in an emergency.
Actions to Take:
- Encourage all U.S. citizens to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and ensure you can be located in an emergency.
- Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
- For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
- Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States.
The Coronavirus Situation (March 16, 2020).
- All borders and ports of entry are closed for incoming tourists.
- All National Parks, museums and public places where 10 or more can gather are closed.
- All tourists if already in the country must confine themselves to hotels
- Few flights outgoing are operating. We managed to move up to early flights via El Al Airlines, but spent approximately 8 hours holding on the phone lines.
- Signs of the 'national quarantine' have no end-date in sight until after the Passover holidays.
- The entire country is together and see this as an effective means to protect our families and yours.
- We hired legal council who specializes in insurance to independently test our Policies, and we received flying remarks for the way we've handled the situation in communication with our clients who have services scheduled through summer!
- Samson Tours and its Force Majeure policies have saved non-insured passengers an estimated $200,000 thus far, and we hope more as individuals activate their insurance through World Nomads and other carriers we will further see a reduction on the overall impact of our company.
The Coronavirus Situation (March 12, 2020).
- On March 10, Samson Tours declared Force Majeure to all of its passenger groups in March, April and now May 2020.
- Samson has been in direct communication with all of its clients traveling through the end of summer 2020, and we are actively working to move all funds forward for passengers who can join new dates. This is exactly why you want to travel with a company call Samson, as we are protecting many non-insured travelers.
- As of March 12, anyone who enters the State of Israel for the next 30 days will be mandatory quarantine. Moreover, without any foreseeable end to that in site, with 30-day period not being a period of release, but open for renewal, Force Majeure is justified.
- All schools in Israel from first grade up are officially canceled until the end of Passover, mid April 2020.
- Outgoing flights to the US from Israel are currently full and difficult to rebook, but passengers currently have guaranteed departures throughout March for our groups.
- For Greece, Turkey and other global passengers, it is recommended that all passengers above the age of 60 sustain from international travel until the World Health Organization has cleared the virus, and should especially not travel on cruise ships.
Other Notes from the Israeli Embassy:
Please read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Israel and/or the West Bank:
- Have a plan to depart Israel and the West Bank which does not rely on U.S. government assistance.
- Carry additional supplies of necessary medication in carry-on luggage due to quarantine restrictions.
- See https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/novel-coronavirus-2019.html for additional guidance.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
The Current Health-Security Situation (March 6, 2020).
Below is an official response regarding the amazing steps Israel has taken to ensure that things continue to operate safely and smoothly. Israel has an excellent security system and has closed down traffic to/from all the infected countries, and this is a very advanced country with some of the best doctors and medical systems in the world. If you have any fears or phobias specifically at the airports, or if you yourself are experiencing a cough or other basic cold symptoms, we recommend that you buy a good mask that you can find at any health or hardware store so that you and others can feel comfortable around you during the flight
"There are at present more than 400,000 tourists from around the world on holiday and trips in Israel. Groups and individuals continue to arrive daily; they feel safe and are enjoying themselves at the country. Israeli sites and attractions are open as usual, as are restaurants, theaters and night life in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem as well as all other parts of the country. The tourists enjoy warm weather, beautiful beaches and tasty cuisine. Everyday life in Israel is unchanged, residents go to work and business continues as usual.
Any tourist who has visited one of the countries listed below for 14 days or more before arriving in Israel will not be given an entrance visa or will be given the option to enter and remain in quarantine. This directive applies to tourists who have been to:
- South Korea
- Hong Kong
- Entrance to the Palestinian territories including Bethlehem and Herodium are closed to public as midnight March 5.
In light of the world crisis, the State of Israel has provided detailed directives on hygiene maintenance at all hotels. The health and wellbeing of Israel's tourists and citizens is the only concern which the Health Ministry and Tourism Ministry has taken into consideration . Incoming tourism continues as usual, with the exception of cancellations from Asian tourists. We are glad to see that overall, it is business as usual with regard to tourism from other parts of the world that meet the latest conditions of Israel's directives."
Your security is our #1 priority.
Samson Tours takes proactive steps to secure our clients physical well-being and financial protection more than any other company in Holy Land travel. During both Operation Cast Lead (Fall, 2012) and Operation Protective Edge (Summer, 2014), we proved to our clients that we can postpone outbound tours at the very last minute and still refund 99% of their non-insured travel funds by invoking Force Majeure. We've continued to act proactively in re-routing groups at Zero costs to them, and usually there's an upgraded surprise in store to help decrease any discomfort that may be caused.
Israel hosts approximately 4 million tourists a year and tourism is expected to grow to nearly 5 million tourists over the next few years. Still, despite Israel's excellent record for safety of its tourists, we know you want assurances.
Let us tell you how we handle situations on the ground in Israel.
- We educate our clients to help them understand that Israel (as hard as it may be to believe!) is one of the safest countries in the world, with the highest security standards. Not a single terrorist attack has ever been carried out against an organized travel group in Israel.
- Our guides and drivers receive SMS notifications if troubles arise and know how to stay clear of problematic areas.
- You may connect with all of our staff, and securely share your location at anytime throughout the tour using the Stops App. Download Stops for Android or iOS.
- Our guides and drivers are highly trained in security and medical emergencies, should the need arise.
- All of our buses are equipped with free WIFI internet, which allows you to keep in contact with your loved ones in the even that there is a sudden change to our schedule and to ensure your safety at all times.
- No suitcase gets placed in the luggage compartments of our buses until you have personally identified them.
- While touring on the ground, our secured buses remain locked at all times and/or under the driver's supervision.
- No-one who is not a part of the group may enter the bus at any time without the guide or tour leader's explicit permission.
- As a member of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association, our understanding with the hotels, sites and Ministry of Tourism, during such time of instabilities in different parts of the country, allow us the flexibility to move the group to an alternative hotel or equal-valued site in a more safe zone should the need arise. In times of crisis, Israel becomes one and we make sure that the tour goes on smoothly and safely.
- If Samson Tours, its tour leader or the Israeli Government decides to postpone the tour due to political instability, and if you are unable to attend those new dates, then we will refund ALL amounts refunded to us by our suppliers (with exception credit card fees, which are non-refundable to merchants). The deposit and credit card fees paid, however, can be applied to any future travel or tour with us. This force majeure policy overrides any of our other refund policies for travelers who are not equipped with travel insurance.
Let us tell you how we secure your funds.
- We use highly sophisticated, SSL technology to secure all of our payment pages, registration pages, My Account and contact pages.
- We do not store your credit card information in any of our own databases or in hard copy anywhere. When making payments, you will need to re-enter your card information each time. It's the safest way all-around.
- Whenever you make a payment, we transfer your funds to our GROUP ESCROW ACCOUNT. With exception of your airline deposit, no funds are payed out to any suppliers until approximately one month prior to departure and are also backed by industry-standard Force Majeure policies.