“We Are Not OK:” Jewish Tour Operator Speaks on War

The war in Israel has so far resulted in over 2,200 deaths and about 9,000 injured across Israel and Palestine. Since 2008, roughly 6,400 Palestinians and 300 Israelis had been killed, not counting the recent fatalities.

Travel Agent reached out to J2 Adventures, which specializes in “journeys of inspiration, education and Jewish connections to Israel and destinations around the world,” to get the latest on the situation from a travel perspective. What they told us? “We are safe. We are not OK. No one is OK.

“We are writing to you during this traumatic time to let you know that some members of our J2 squad (team) and collective (our guides) have been called up to serve in their respective units, while others have children, spouses and family members who have been mobilized. Like countless others in Israel, our lives intersect and are deeply entwined with those who have lost their loved ones, are victims of violence themselves, and are abducted and/or are missing.”

The tour company said it had travelers in Israel over the weekend but did not share any additional information. It also said it would be communicating with travelers who have upcoming bookings by October 20.

TTC Tour Brands, separately, said it does not have any tours operating in the affected areas at present and all of its European tours are operating normally. All upcoming tours to Israel departing up to and including December 31 will be suspended. Any guests booked on the affected departures will be contacted in the next few days about their options for rescheduling or alternative travel destinations.

“We are deeply saddened by the current situation unfolding in Israel. Our hearts and thoughts are with everyone in the affected areas," TTC Tour Brands said in a statement, adding, "We will continue to monitor the situation closely and tours departing after December 31, 2023, will be assessed in due course. The suspensions affect Israel only and our tours in Egypt and Jordan are running as scheduled.”

Earlier this week, Intrepid Travel canceled all tour departures in Israel and the Palestinian Territories through October 31, 2023. While these trips, Intrepid stressed that tour departures in neighboring Egypt and Jordan will continue as scheduled. Government travel advisories for Egypt and Jordan remain unchanged and both countries remain open for tourism.

Several advisors additionally told Travel Agent that they are seeing clients cancel trips not just to Israel but to nearby destinations. One said she had a client cancel a trip to Oman (although “her travel buddy is still going”), while others are trying to cancel or rebook Nile River cruises.

One advisor told us she has clients leaving for Jordan and Egypt next week. The supplier is planning to operate the tour as scheduled and is enforcing 100 percent cancelation penalties.

Good to know: The Israel Ministry of Tourism is working with the relevant authorities to get people out of the country and numerous cruise lines and airlines have paused operations in/to the country. Delta is offering a waiver for travelers with planned flights to Tel Aviv through October 31, American Airlines has an alert for Tel Aviv for travel through December 4, and United Airlines has an alert for travel to Tel Aviv or Amman, Jordan, through October 31.

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