April 20, 2009

Last Minute Passover Reservations Saves the Day for Many

Jerusalem…Many hotels around the world had expected a weak Passover season due to the recession but for some a last minute surge helped stave off a dismal fate. Business was off some 10% - 15% in many hotels in Israel and Europe while there were some reports of a drop-off of as much as 30% in some US destinations. While some of the more successful programs were at or near sell-out, some programs opened with half of their usual occupancies. Globes reports that “despite the economic crisis, it seems that Israel's tourism industry can chalk up a better Passover holiday than expected.” 500,000 Israelis, almost 10% of Israel’s Jewish population, were on the move during the holiday. The Israel Airport Authority reports an overall 8% drop in outgoing passenger traffic compared with last year. The Israel Hotels Association reports that the nationwide room occupancy rate was 75%, 10% less than last year. Globes reports that hotels at the Dead Sea were an exception, where half the hotels made prearranged bulk deals with charedi groups. These hotels were fully occupied for the holiday. The better than expected forecast for some came as a result of last minute reservations, which for some US hotel operators meant that customers “were dictating the price,” as one entrepreneur put it. Flying Carpet CEO Eyal Kashdan said that most Passover reservations in Israel were made at the last moment, and greatly boosted overseas tourism traffic. "This year, more than ever, Israelis waited until the last moment. Outgoing flights for Passover filled up only in the week preceding the holiday. Kashdan noted that, despite the sharp drop in recent months for vacations in Antalya, Turkey, passenger traffic to this destination picked up for Passover, and it was still the second most popular destination for Israelis after the US. Top destinations after Turkey were the UK, Germany, and Italy.