Israelis Enjoy Passover in the Land

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GOLAN HEIGHTS, Israel - The economic downturn convinced many Israelis to spend this Passover holiday in the country, bringing occupancy at resorts, guesthouses and hotels to 90 percent capacity.

"We feel a change from previous years," Shmulik Hazan, head of the Golan Heights tourism association, told YNet news.

"Many chose to come and tour the Golan and enjoy the [wide] range of attractions the area offers to the entire family," Hazan said.

But it's not just the Golan resorts that are filled to capacity.

Kibbutzim [agricultural communities] in the Galilee held record numbers of Passover Seders this year.

At one hotel, Israeli families, joined by relatives from Brooklyn, celebrated the Seder at the Pastoral Hotel in the northern Galilee.

Other Israelis and tourists chose to spend the holiday in the Negev.

According to Negev Development Authority staffer Michal Uziyahu, there are more tourists this year than ever before, which she attributed both to the economy and to the rising popularity of mountain biking, camping and hiking.

"There is a rising demand for bicycling and people prefer to spend their time camping or hiking," Uziyahu said.

"The Negev is Israel's big nature park…In the Arava and Dead Sea areas, places have been fully booked for a month. You couldn't get a mattress for the night," she said.

The silver lining during tough economic times has boosted Israel's tourism industry this Passover.

Source: YNet news

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