Jerusalem may be the holy city, but tourists probably don't have a prayer if they hope to find an available hotel room in Jerusalem for Yom Ha'atzmaut. This year promises an extra dose of festivities on account of Israel's 60th anniversary, and the result is that hotels - especially plush, high-end hotels - have been booked far in advance for the big day. "Rooms were booked over a year ago," comments Nedina Pearl, spokesperson for the David Citadel, a luxurious five-star hotel that commands a view of the Old City. The result is that for the past year, there hasn't been a single availability in the hotel for Yom Ha'atzmaut. Next door, the famous King David Hotel is similarly booked up for the holiday. The same holds true for the Mount Zion Hotel, with its sought-after panoramic views. Only Israel's 50th anniversary could compare with this one in recent years, in terms of the speed and number of hotel reservations. Pearl suggests that an extra appeal for visitors may be that the unification of Jerusalem has been linked to the 60th anniversary celebrations, doubling the significance of the date. Most hotel guests will be from the US, with an additional smattering from the UK, Europe and Australia. Jewish groups, particularly Zionist organizations such as Keren Hayesod, are packing the hotels for Yom Ha'atzmaut. During the time of the celebration, "Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are in very high demand," says Shmuel Zurel of the Israel Hotel Association. Zurel goes on to add that there is an occupancy rate of 80 percent in mid-range to high-class hotels in Jerusalem. Latecomers who are willing to settle for a lower-end venue may have better luck finding accommodation. Zurel also maintains that tourism in 2008 has seen an upward swing in general, with a 10% monthly increase compared to last year. Short-term rental apartments for May have been in high demand as well, says a spokesperson for the real estate agency Good Morning Jerusalem. The spokesperson affirms that "most of [Israel] is fully booked." Short-term rentals of apartments in Talbiyeh, Rehavia and the German Colony are booming, booked for the most part by American religious Jewish families who don't want the expense of a hotel, and who want to be near the Old City. Joanne Odes, spokesperson for the Inbal Hotel in the center of Jerusalem, agrees that the demand for rooms in Jerusalem over Yom Ha'atzmaut is substantial and that the 60th anniversary is a factor. "People have prepaid to book rooms," says Odes, with the result that there is now zero availability for the date of the holiday. To Zurel, the flurry of hotel bookings for Yom Ha'atzmaut is to be expected. "We are blessed on this date," he says.

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