January 22, 2020

Competition Heats up for Passover Program Participants

New York…The intense competition for families who will spend Passover (eve of April 8th – April 16th) at one of more than 150 resorts and hotels worldwide is well underway. Jewish newspapers already have many pages of advertisement of the Passover programs. An estimated 100,000 Jews in the US and Canada joined such programs in 2019 in what was a record year. Several thousand families will again be vacationing in Orlando this year as many of the choice homes have already been spoken for and kosher catering arranged. But many of the program operators reached by Kosher Today said that operating such programs at a profit is becoming increasingly difficult. Some of their comments included: “The kosher Passover vacationer expects to get value for their money but often we end up spending much more than we take in.” This operator pointed out that the average vacationer expects gourmet food, best entertainment, and a property with all the amenities; yet, they bargain for every dollar. Another said that “only the fittest will survive,” meaning that he is not sure that all of the advertised programs will in the end go to the finish line. He pointed out that in the past, several programs were forced to close down in midstream due to financial strains. A growing number of operators are from Israel, but they advertise on 3 continents, and covet the American customers. Some long-time Passover vacationers said that they found the European destinations far less expensive “and even with the airfare less than some exquisite US destinations.”

Several operators said that the calendar might be a factor this year. A caterer/entrepreneur explained: “There’s three days of holidays and Shabbos to start, only 2 plus days of Chol Hamoed, the last days and people in many places will have to leave immediately when the holiday concludes on Thursday night to be able to make Shabbos in their own homes.” Some programs are offering the option to continue till after the Shabbos. (see follow-up stories in coming editions of Kosher Today.)