Organizations assist mobility-challenged travelers bound for Israel


NEW YORK -- Getting to the other side of the globe and maneuvering through the rock-strewn Holy Land can be complicated for a mobility-challenged traveler, but Israel is trying to accommodate different needs and offer assistance to U.S. tour operators and agents.

According to Eli Meiri of Keli Tours, which has a department called Tourism for People With Special Needs, getting there is the first big step -- and deciding what equipment to take requires planning. For example, he said, although some people prefer to rent wheelchairs when they get to Israel, "We have had good experiences with El Al for people who travel with their own [wheelchairs]."

For travelers who do not want to bring their own wheelchair, medical equipment can be borrowed by making a small deposit at several Yad Sarah locations around the Holy Land; call (011) 972-2 644-4555 or fax (011) 972-2 644-4549. And as there is no national standard as of yet, Meiri verifies the suitability of hotel accommodations around Israel.

Once in the Holy Land, mobility-challenged travelers face terrain that is hilly and rocky and lots of cobblestone streets.

The Old City of Jerusalem, for example, is a maze of narrow corridors. However, according to Meiri, an experienced guide can find accessible routes to most of the holy sites. Sites in the newer sections of the capital, such as at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and the Israel Museum, are fully accessible.
Keli Tours
Phone: (011) 972-9 740-9490
Fax: (011) 972-9 740-9408
E-mail: [email protected]

Another resource is Milbat, the Israeli center for information concerning people with physical difficulties. This group is a good source of information on transportation, medical assistance and equipment repairs as well as insights into hotels, activities and sites.
Phone: (011) 972-3 530-3739
Fax: (011) 972-3 535-7812

At the Umbrella Organization of the Association for the Disabled, travel consultant Arik Vanosh, a disabled Israeli army veteran, is available to give information on attractions. Umbrella Organization of the Association for the Disabled
Phone: (011) 972-3 561-8557 or (011) 972-3 561-8338
E-mail: [email protected]

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