March 30, 2009

Passover Hotel Programs Victim of World Economic Slump

Jerusalem…There no longer is a question of whether “going away” this Passover will be a victim of the world economic glut. The only question is by how much and the answers vary from 10% to as much as 25%. European programs are taking the brunt of the belt tightening by traditional Passover vacationers. Some hotel programs were down by as much as a third. Many Israelis who were traditional European clients are opting instead for closer destinations. According to Globes, countries least hit are less expensive nearby destinations such as Greece and Cyprus. Staff at the pre-flight check-in counters at Ben Gurion International Airport cannot remember such short lines in the days leading up to Passover. Travel agents report that the number of people taking vacations during the Passover holiday is down by 20-30% compared with last year, even though the cost of vacations in London and Paris had dropped to a five-year low. One of Jerusalem’s major hotels reduced prices by as much as 20% and offered 6 free meals and is still at 60% of capacity.

In the US, kosher food vendors say that hotels and other Passover programs have ordered as much as 25% less than last year. The guess is that business overall is off by a similar number as some programs consolidated and others renegotiated room contracts with hotels. One program operator said that “I feel like I am in the shuk (market) as people constantly call me and offer me the price they are willing to pay.” He admitted that he was “at least meeting them half day” although he was extremely concerned about his customers that were paying full price.