January 25, 2010

Nail-biting time for Organizers of Passover Programs

New York…With just about nine weeks to go, organizers of Passover programs throughout the world are betting that the slight boost in the economy will help them fill rooms quicker this year. Last year, say the organizers, it pretty much came down to a last-minute surge. For some it meant renegotiating room blocks and downsizing their programs in general. Israeli hotels are hoping that the mid-week Passover (eve of March 29th – April 6th) will drive more tourist traffic to the Jewish state. Last year, the hotels filled rooms with Israelis instead of the coveted tourists from overseas. Several program organizers told KosherToday that they were courted by major hotels throughout the country in what they explained is an effort by the hotels to “drum-up business during the recession.” Some of the hotels had turned down the business in previous years. Florida programs, say the organizers, are expected to do well with the relatively early Passover. More than 30 programs were advertised in some of the weeklies with each claiming to feature notables and Jewish music stars. The Passover hotel business has been estimated to be worth nearly $100 million with at least another $25 million accounting for travel. An estimated 20,000 Americans and Canadians are expected to spend Passover at one of the hotels. One travel expert predicted that “this would be more of a stay-at-home Passover,” meaning that programs in Europe and perhaps Israel would not fare as well as the domestic programs. One program operator thought that some of the people that stayed away last year would return this year, “particularly those that did somewhat better in the (stock) market.” He was worried that there may not be enough time to “really fill up my place,” but he predicted that he would pass the “threshold” which he described as being just barely profitable.