June 5, 2021 Update
Shalom, wonderful Tour Leaders!
From the staff of Jerusalem Tours International (JTI), we would like to extend a warm greeting and word of gratitude to our wonderful tour leaders, shepherds in Christ, and supporters of Israel!
We are sincerely appreciative of the support and leadership that you have demonstrated during these unusual and confusing times. If ever the world was in doubt, this past year has only made us more certain that our greatest and, only true hope, can be found in Him!
It has been a long season and things are finally moving in a very positive direction, thanks be to God! So, we want to share:
- General update on Jerusalem Tours
- What we have been doing
- What we know
- What we think we know
- As well as the questions at which we are still guessing!
General Update on Jerusalem Tours
The easiest question to address is, “How is Jerusalem Tours holding up to the COVID crisis?” The response is…. MIRACULOUSLY WELL AND VERY BUSY!!!
Since travel has been ‘in the air’ for most of this past year (metaphorically rather than literally), it doesn’t make sense that we could be alright. As strange is it may sound to say, but God strategically placed Donna Jollay at the helm of JTI at just the right time and, yes, that was just a few months prior to the outbreak of a global pandemic. God always has a plan! Years prior to Donna taking ownership of Jerusalem Tours, He had been birthing in her a business plan, high-tech giftings, while also placing in her a love for Israel and the Jewish people. Donna’s connections with rabbis, the Israeli Knesset, global business partners, and influential Jewish figures, is impressive.
To provide an example, I (Kellie) was sitting next to Donna on September 15th while she was on a Zoom call with several influential people in Israel, when she started receiving a Skype-video call. When she answered, I had the privilege of being introduced to Dr. James Garlow, an early member of President Trump’s Faith Advisor Board, and his lovely wife, Rosemary Shindler Garlow. They were invited to the White House to witness the signing of the Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony. Shortly after the signing and while still at the White House, they called Donna to share with her highlights of this historical moment.
The purpose of sharing this portion of Donna’s story is not to boast but rather to sow seeds of confidence with our tour leaders and travelers. Anyone, of their own accord, can own a travel agency and simply be in business. In the case of Jerusalem Tours, however, Donna received an unction from God to purchase JTI for two purposes: to carrying out David and Sara’s legacy and to bring MANY people to the Holy Land.
If you would like to read more about "How that happened?" and a bit of the back story of how this all came about, visit this link:
What Have We Been Doing?
As unbelievable as it may seem, JTI has been extremely busy during a time when travel has come to a complete stop. And, this is so much due to our wonderful Tour Leaders and travelers who have remained so faithful in these times-like-no-other.
We have the absolute BEST customers! Re-booking tours has allowed us to navigate these uncertain times in a truly Miraculous way that is enabling us to continue operations when so sadly there are many that will not.
In an abundance of caution, we have also reduced our office hours significantly, so re-booking postponed tours and processing over 1,000 travelers requests as well as signing up future/new tours for 2021 and 2022 is keeping us VERY busy. In addition to all of that, we have been engaged in the following activities, primarily focused on improving our customer’s experience:
- Tele-conference calls between JTI and the Israeli Department of Tourism (initiated by the Department of Tourism)
- Newly re-designed Jerusalem Tours website which now includes a means of reliably contacting JTI AND the ability to make payments
with many more enhancements coming soon!
- The conceptualization, design and implementation of digital ONLINE registration forms which include enhanced features for registration, payment, itinerary/tour download and digital marketing
- The design and implementation of a new Tour Status page that provides tour leaders with updated information regarding registered passengers, flight information, accommodations and itinerary in one simple, easy-to-read ONLINE document (no more having to ask us and then wait for an updated traveler report!)
- Digital online proposal forms
- Many Zoom meetings with our Israeli partners
- And… we moved our office! As we were being motivated by the COVID stay-at-home orders to become digital at warp speed, we were able to accelerate the 2021 plan to relocate our office to a location that we had already planned to develop into an Israel Regional Center.
We are so pleased to announce that we have taken up business residence at
161 N. Hamilton Road, Columbus, Ohio 43213.
Gesher means "Bridge" in Hebrew and The Gesher Center was established by Pastor David and Miriam Swaggerty with the explicit purpose of facilitating relationships between the Christian and Jewish communities. Our new site is equipped with office and meeting space and a banquet area, making it the perfect environment for hosting educational events, orientations, A Taste of Israel, or in-person meetings with our tour leaders! It was a goal of Donna’s to come alongside to help ‘build’ an Israel Regional Center at this specific location! God used COVID to just accelerate that plan.
What We Know! (About travel today)
Donna was Miraculously invited to come to Israel as one of the first and very few non-Israelis to enter Israel in over a year. She arrived in The Holy Land on April 13th, and, she is very Blessed to be able to go through the process of entering the country to be able to share with you her first-hand experience in doing that. Because non-Israelis were not being allowed, yet, Donna had to go through a special permission process, the same as what groups currently have to go through and we expect a similar process for groups in the fall.
NOTES: Because we are working hard to keep costs the same for those that are re-booking by leaving their bookings in place we are unable to absorb any additional costs due to travel requirements. Nothing is certain at this time, so we are unable to say what the specific process or costs will be, but here is the overview of the current protocol that we expect will be similar for all international travel:
- A package of information, including proof of health coverage if covid positive, has to be submitted within 2 weeks prior to travel
- Pre-flight testing - PCR testing required within 72 hours before departure and must bring results. This testing needs to be arranged for and funded by each traveler as is standard for any medical requirements for traveling to any country.
- Post-flight testing - PCR test administered upon arrival at the airport.