In May 2019, 60 British ex-servicemen and women flew to Israel for the first Veterans Games. Many had suffered injuries during campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland. Getting all their travel arrangements just right was a huge challenge.
“Watching these brave people, and knowing we had catered for each of their unique needs for their entire trip, was probably the proudest moment of my career in travel,” said Michal Alperson, who oversaw the logistics for their visit.
That experience, of hosting the veterans in Israel, made Alperson determined to expand high-quality accessible travel for BEIsrael. “It was a challenge like no other, and I’m determined that others will benefit from the massive experience we acquired,” she said.
Accessible tours to Israel include visits to many of the classic Israeli sites - and so much more. Picture this, for example: You’re on a beautiful trail along the Nahal Hashofet river, in northern Israel. As you hear the water flowing, you admire the willows and elms growing along the banks. The scenery constantly changes, you pass a couple of small caves and a beautiful grove where you see the remains of an old flour mill.
This entire trail is fully-accessible by wheelchair, as are many other routes through Israel’s top nature reserves. New laws in the last decade have prompted a major increase in accessibility. They've directly led to improvements at 70 national parks, archeological and heritage sites run by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and at more than 300 forests.
Whatever happens, we’re three steps ahead. We’ve already checked how far it is from the bus to the nature trail and made sure there are accessible bathrooms. We’ve already thought through the timing for the Western Wall visit to avoid the morning rush. It’s our job to make sure itinerary fits the needs of every person in the group.
We feel it’s an honor for us to make Israel accessible, and it’s our duty to ensure everything runs smoothly. We combine our in-house knowledge, with the expertise of external advisors to prepare and plan ahead. That way we fully understand everyone's needs.
The Veterans Games and Conference 2019 proved to be an extremely positive experience for the veterans and their families. Events of this nature play a significant part in the ongoing recovery of veterans who have suffered physical injury and/or psychological scarring as a consequence of military service. The bringing together of wounded UK and Israeli military veterans and family members for a combination of sporting competition and social and cultural activities in Israel created an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere that proved conducive to the sharing of common experiences; many have profited from this.
Coming this year, The Veterans Game and Conference 2020, for the second time, to complete, to achieve, to connect, to get involved, an experience of a lifetime!