Navigating the New Standards of Kosher Travel and Pesach Programs

the industry is shaping up for 2021 Passover Programs

Cancun – popular destination for Passover travelers

Summer and Sukkot programs did take place in Corona times. What can we learn from them? What to expect? Indication of how the Pesach programs will deal with the coronavirus.

The COVID-19 impact on Passover programs in 2020 came as a shock to the entire industry. Now, program operators and guests are cautiously optimistic about Passover programs for 2021. With the constantly changing conditions and restrictions in countries around the world, the Passover program industry is operating with a new set of rules. People are starting to organize their Pesach vacations but with the knowledge that those plans could potentially be cancelled.

After Pesach was “cancelled” last year and everyone stayed home, people were ready to get out and started booking summer programs and Sukkot programs. There were a number of successful summer and Sukkot programs. The programs implemented strict health procedures in line with COVID-19 regulations. We have seen from Sukkot programs that there is still a definite appetite to travel.

Passover programs under the veil of COVID-19 will look different from Passover programs of the past. The Pesach programs will have to reflect the “new normal” and take into consideration the difficulties faced last year with program cancellations. We have already seen program operators successfully deal with these issues on Sukkot.

Expect to see programs introduce safety measures such as temperature checks, hand sanitizing, mask wearing and intense regular cleaning. Program operators will be taking reservations and deposits closer to Pesach.

We spoke to program operators planning programs in Israel, Europe and the UAE. They are taking smaller deposits up front, collecting the balance closer to Pesach and offering very reasonable cancellation policies.

Joey Freudmann of Ophir Tours is asking for a $100 deposit when guests make reservations for his program this year, as opposed to the $1000 that they have asked in previous years.

Mr. Kahana of the Kahana Group said they are offering a full refund for cancellations for any reason up to one week before Pesach: “This year, we are dealing with our suppliers and building our programs differently in order to protect our investment.”

Shainfeld Tours is offering full refund of the deposit (500 Euro per family) for cancellations for any reason up to two weeks before Pesach.

Lenny Davidman will be collecting a small registration fee per room with 50% of the fee paid by the end of January and the balance paid upon arrival at the hotel. He will give full refunds if the hotel is shut down by the government due to the coronavirus.

The industry is very excited about the newest exotic Pesach vacation destination for 2021. With the normalization of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, kosher Jewish travellers are looking forward to vacationing in the Emirates. Program operators are already booking hotels and organizing Passover programs in the UAE for the upcoming Pesach.

We are still five months away from Pesach 2021 so it is still too early to know how it will play out. COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in people’s plans for the past eight months. We have seen countries opening up, only to go into lockdown a few months later. The numbers of infected fluctuate on a daily basis and local rules and regulations are constantly changing.

We see that program operators are putting in every effort to organize amazing programs around the world. People are ready to travel and would love to go on a Pesach vacation. Many companies are working on a COVID-19 vaccine, some in late stage trials. A vaccine becoming available in the next few months would be a game changer. We remain cautiously optimistic.

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