Israel, Expensive Fun

Israel is a great vacation destination, if only everything didn’t cost so much…

People enjoy at the Red Sea in the Southern Israeli city of Eilat Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90

Today’s the last day of school for elementary students. The summer vacation begins. It was not a normal school year, not only for the parents but also for the children, who spent most of the year in front of a computer screen. In no other country in the world have schools been closed for as long as here in Israel. But that doesn’t matter now, the summer vacation has arrived. Time to travel. But where?

Travel will also be affected by the coronavirus this summer. In many countries, the virus has not yet been brought under control. As of yesterday, Israelis have been barred from flying to so-called “red” countries. Before a flight, every Israeli must now fill out a form in which he promises not to fly to a red country. Violation of that pledge will be met by a hefty fine of 5,000 shekel fine, which comes out to around $1,500! Even flights to approved countries are questionable at the moment.

But that doesn’t matter. We live in Israel, which itself is a prime tourism destination. And since we are still waiting for the return of foreign tourists, perhaps in the meantime we can be tourists in our own country. There is enough to see and there is no shortage of beautiful hotels. This is what our Ministry of Tourism also thought and therefore started a campaign some time ago to encourage us Israelis to get out and about right here in the country. The same holiday experience, only without passports and all the other preparations before a flight abroad.

The Ministry of Tourism is right, Israel is a great holiday destination. But there is a small problem that our new Minister of Tourism in the “Government of Change” discovered. Unfortunately, Israel is far too expensive! The new minister, Yoel Razvozov, a former judoka and two-time European silver medalist, is very motivated serve the nation in his new role. How does the saying go? “A new broom sweeps clean!” There seems to be something to it. And as one of his first acts, Razvozov ordered that the aforementioned vacation campaign, which had begun before he entered office, be immediately halted.

The reason for this is exorbitant prices at local hotels. I, too, was horrified when searching for hotel rates for a few days’ stay for our family of four. Just to give you a little taste:

  • Four nights in a good hotel in Eilat for two adults and two children for 10,671 shekels ($3,280)!
  • Four nights in a very good hotel in Mitzpe Ramon will cost a family of four 19,040 shekels ($5,850)!
  • At the Dan Hotel in Eilat you have to go a little further, four nights there cost 19,904 shekels ($6,125)!

Of course there are also cheaper hotels and other options for vacationing in Israel. We personally like to go on day trips. The country is small enough that you can get almost anywhere and back home all in the same day. But even for good hotels, these prices are simply shocking. I find it even more insane that the hotels are still well occupied. The current situation is being exploited by the hotel chains.

Hotel in Eilat. Unfortunately far too expensive.

The new minister said he sees no point in wasting public funds on continuing the above ad campaign and is now asking hotels to cut prices. And that seems to have already born fruit. Some chains have already announced a price cut of around 15 percent. Ok, that’s not much, but it’s a start. At the same time, perhaps it’s not so bad that you, dear readers, have to wait a little longer before you can visit our country again. Maybe your next vacation will be a little cheaper thanks to our new Minister of Tourism.

Until that happens, we will try to enjoy our beautiful country despite everything this summer. There is only one Israel.

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