Hiking in Israel
Photo: Avner Yaron
Thousands of Israelis took advantage of the spring weather Passover Day to travel to the north and south of the country.
Hospices, bed and breakfasts, and hotels reported an occupancy of over 90% on Thursday and tourists attractions reported an increase in visitors, complimenting the steadily decline of Israeli departures for travel abroad during Passover vacation in recent years.
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In the north, sunny skies replaced storm clouds and tourism abounded. "We feel a change from previous years," head of the Golan tourism association, Shmulik Hazan, told Ynet.
"Many choose to come and tour the Golan and enjoy the range of attractions the area offers to the entire family," he said, adding that he was expecting the numbers to increase further during the Passover weekdays (Hol Hamoed) this week.
Kibbutzim in the Galilee were also busy, with a record number of people choosing to hold their Passover Eve Seder at the various hotels and bed and breakfasts.
"We were prepared," said Meir Levy, who heads the Upper Galilee travel forum. "In the Pastoral Hotel, for example, there was a kosher Seder attended by families from Israel and Brooklyn who arrived to spend the holiday together."
The Negev was not left out of the celebrations. Michal Uziyahu, of the Negev Development Authority, told Ynet that this Passover had seen more tourism than any previous year.
"Many attribute this to the economic trend. The choice of local tourism over tourism abroad is on the rise this year because of the economic situation," she said.
She also related the increasing demand to a developing taste for greener tourist attractions. "There is a rising demand for bicycle rides, and people prefer to spend their time camping or hiking," she said.
"The Negev is seen as Israel's big nature park, so the demand is aimed here," Uziyahu added. "In the Arava and southern Dead Sea areas there are places that have been fully booked since a month ago. You couldn't get a mattress for the night."
Ilana Curiel contributed to this report