Over 200 hotels offer 20% off as high prices leave rooms empty

Israel Hotel Association says 72-hour offer aims to assist Israelis to afford local trips, fill hotels left vacant amid soaring cost of living; website crashes after announcement

Michael Horovitz is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel

File: View of the Herod's Palace hotel in Eilat, southern Israel. October 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
File: View of the Herod's Palace hotel in Eilat, southern Israel. October 11, 2019. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

Rooms at over 200 hotels around Israel will be available at a 20 percent markdown on all overnight stays, in an offer by the Israel Hotel Association that will run from noon Tuesday until noon Friday.

The Israel Hotel Association said the offer is available for any date over the coming year and covers 212 hotels rated from three to five stars, for customers who make their booking within the 72-hour period.

As of late morning Tuesday before the sale began, the association’s website crashed, likely due to the high volume of interest in the offer.

“We want to make it easier for the Israeli public and allow them to enjoy a cheaper vacation for their entire family, for any type of room, all over Israel and any time of the year,” the organization’s CEO Yael Danieli said in a statement.

“For us, a successful sale will allow every home in Israel to save on their next vacation booking and help fill hotels in Israel, even during the off-peak periods,” she added.

Some of the luxury hotels included in the deal include Setai Kinneret, the Herod hotels in Herzliya and Eilat, and the Brown Golden House in Tel Aviv.

File: View of the Alexander boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, on February 22, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

As an example, a stay at the Alexander Hotel in Tel Aviv, which would normally cost NIS 3,120 ($820) per night, will start at NIS 2,496 ($655) with the discount.

While the sale is set to help Israelis afford local vacations, it is mainly intended to help hotels fill rooms left empty due to their high price.

According to data from the IHA, there was a 12% drop in the number of stays in January-July 2023, compared to the same period in 2019, including a 15% drop in overseas tourists and a 2% drop in local visitors, as Israelis grapple with inflation impacting day-to-day expenses.

In an interview with the Ynet news site, Danieli said the move was done in cooperation with Tourism Minister Haim Katz, and is part of a series of steps “including the easing of regulation on the industry and the removal of barriers in planning and construction to increase the supply of guest rooms.”

Danieli complained of extra costs the Israeli tourist industry has to deal with that other countries do not have, including hiring armed guards and fees for supervision of kosher food.

In addition, Israelis pay VAT on local hotel room reservations.

“It should be noted that overseas it takes three years to establish a hotel, and here it’s 10 years. In addition, the government has reduced the assistance grant for building hotels,” she said.

Israelis are burdened with the highest cost of living among developed countries, according to a report in August by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In Israel, prices were 38 percent higher in 2022 than the average in OECD member countries, according to the comparative index, which analyzes differences in the general price levels of countries as measured by consumer price indices and ratios of purchasing power parities to market exchange rates. In second place in the ranking table was Switzerland, closely followed by Iceland, then the US in fourth place.

As Israelis struggle to make ends meet, economic growth forecasts have been cut and investments are hampered by the uncertainty surrounding the government’s plan for the judicial overhaul and a slowdown in the global economy. Moreover, interest rates have steadily been rising over the past year, making mortgages and loans more expensive.

Sharon Wrobel contributed to this report.

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