Tourism industry prepares for busy Tishrei

Israir airlines predicts that 260,000 people will be vacationing in Eilat.

Eilat 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Eilat 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Though the holidays are still several weeks away, the Israeli tourism industry is already bustling, with tour agents and travel companies eager to net those who have yet to book their foreign vacation plans. Local hotels too are gearing up for a busy holiday season.
Aladdin Travel, a company specializing in booking hotels, tours and attractions, is betting that the high temperatures and low euro will drive Israelis to remain relatively close by and spend shorter vacations in Europe.
“People will be traveling to European destinations like London, Rome, Barcelona, Madrid, Berlin, Prague and the Mediterranean coast,” said marketing director Eyal Shtark. “The euro’s exchange rate fell by five percent compared to last year, making prices there more affordable.
Also the timing of the holidays this year – early September – in close proximity to the summer vacation enables summer-style vacations, unlike last year, when the holidays fell in October and it was already autumn or winter in most destinations.”
In contrast, Diesenhaus Tours marketing director Gilad Brobinsky believed that because of the relatively few work days in September, many people were opting for longer holidays at distant destinations.
“With only 13 work days in September, many employees will combine vacation days with the holidays and stretch out their vacations for three or four weeks,” said Brobinsky, “ going to farther and more exotic paces like Thailand or taking a long and leisurely tour around the US.”
At YambaTeva, they’re betting on Sri Lanka as the next holiday destination. The tour company reported hundreds of bookings to the tropical island, and it is looking into chartering direct flights.
“There is no doubt that Sri Lanka has conquered the market this year,” said YambaTeva marketing director Vered Shwartz. “We have seen a rise in demand, but this year is record-breaking as the public has realized that at lower cost than a vacation in the US or Europe, they can enjoy a brand-new destination that offers hiking, safaris, white water rafting, luxury resorts, beaches, and more.”
The most popular foreign travel destination for the holiday season may be not a vacation site at all, but a pilgrimage destination. According to Ben-Gurion Airport, 18,000 passengers are expected to fill 100 planes going to Uman in the Ukraine. Rosh Hashana is the traditional time of year for a massive prayer over the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav.
The airport will provide passengers with special preflight group check-in services, food delivery services, extra border control posts and travel arrangement booths.
For those opting to stay in Israel, Eilat is the hottest place to be. Israir airlines predicts that 260,000 people will be vacationing there.
“Rosh Hashana falls only eight days after the summer break, and all the holidays fall on long weekends,” noted Dori Shoshan, Israir’s marketing director. “The political reality vis-a-vis Turkey has meant many Israelis giving up their traditional travel plans to the Turkish resorts and opting to vacation in Eilat instead. We anticipate 90% occupancy rates in Eilat hotels and have prepared a wide variety of vacation packages for both the holidays and the days in between.” Israir packages including flights and three nights at a hotel range from NIS 1,870 to NIS 2,700 per person.
Eilat hotels are busy readying themselves for the onslaught. The Harrods hotel complex reported that they were anticipating 17,000 vacationers, and that all the rooms had already been fully booked.