Music, movies, karaoke and the beach

Eilat aims to make new international student festival an annual event.

By RON FRIEDMAN
August 12, 2010 09:44
3 minute read.
The southern city of Eilat.

Eilat 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Eilat usually stops to catch its breath during the first week of September, taking a short break between the intensity of the summer vacation and the rush of the High Holy Days.

This year, however, there is no break in sight, as 6,000 students from across Israel and Europe are expected to converge on the city for FunJoya 2010 – the first international student festival of its type in Israel.

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In an effort to produce a festival that will make a mark on the student vacation calendar and start a new annual tradition, organizers have planned three days packed with activities, including concerts, parties and conferences.

The festival, which will take place from September 2-4, with an investment of NIS 4 million, will include two nights and three days full of pool parties, movie screenings, karaoke parties, stand-up performances and live shows by artists like Mashina, Eddy Watta, Tislam and a variety of deejays from around the world.

The students will also participate in workshops and debates on various political, diplomatic and advocacy issues.

“Our intention is to produce an international festival that will enter the global consciousness.

We want students around the world to know that, just as there is an annual Beer Festival in Germany, there is FunJoya in Israel,” said Guy Beser, director-general of Peles, the Israeli Student Union’s economic division and the festival’s director.

“Our main goal is to promote tourism to Israel. We aim to do this by providing a mixture of pure fun alongside serious debate,” said Beser.

According to Beser, the festival was aggressively marketed both in Israel and abroad, through student union bodies and in cooperation with the festival’s major sponsors.

“We worked with organizations like the World Union of Jewish Students and Taglit-Birthright, as well as companies like Issta and El Al,” said Beser. “We also partnered with the Israel Hotel Association and the Ministry of Tourism.”

According to Beser, thousands of hotel rooms in six participating hotels in Eilat have been reserved for the festival, which is expected to generate millions of shekels in revenue for the resort city.

In addition to the festival experience, the organizers have set some other goals. These include branding Israel as an attractive tourism destination for students; improving Israel’s image among this target group and facilitating multi-cultural encounters for students from Israel and European countries.

Beser said that for those who were interested, the festival would also offer serious conferences dealing with issues like the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, regional co-existence and worldwide Israel advocacy.

Beser said that so far, most of the foreign students who had signed up to the festival were Jewish, but they would be happy to have people from all religions attend.

When asked if they had experienced any difficulties marketing the festival on university campuses abroad, Beser responded that nothing had come up and suggested that since the event was focused on fun and not on politics, it was well received.

“I guess people have an easier time swallowing things that have to do with Israel when they are orientated towards non-divisive issues,” he said.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov was enthusiastic about the festival.

“The student festival is of great importance to the city of Eilat and to the State of Israel, both in terms of promoting student tourism to the resort city, which will in turn contribute to the local economy, and in the encounter these tourists will enjoy with Israel and its touring, cultural and entertainment options.

“We will work to ensure the festival is an annual event and to bring new sectors to Israel in general and Eilat in particular and expose them to an attractive and quality vacation in Israel,” he said.

Festival package prices differ depending on the point of origin, but Beser said that an all-inclusive package, including flights, food, hotels, and entrance to all the events, would cost someone arriving from Amsterdam ¤600.

For Israelis the price ranges from NIS 450-NIS 900 depending on the hotel and the number of people per room.


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