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Sunday, October 24, 2021
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With coronavirus cases decreasing and pandemic-related restrictions easing worldwide, people are beginning to resume life as it was, and that includes thinking about how they want to spend Passover in 2022.

Fortunately, more than 100 Passover travel programs are expected to operate in 2022, compared to about 30 Passover travel programs that operated in 2021, when the coronavirus, although on the decline, nevertheless resulted in most people staying home for the holiday.

Increased supply of these programs is indicative of surging demand for them—welcome news for the program operators making large investments in organizing these inclusive Pesach vacation packages, serving kosher travelers from observant communities around the world.

“We will be sold out very soon,” Helit Edelstein, program operator at Kosherica, a leader in Passover programs, vacation packages and travel, said in an interview.

Similarly, Lety Zlochisty, founder of Hafikoman Passover, when asked how much interest there was in her company’s 2022 programs, said things were looking “very promising. We already have bookings from 2021 participants and from new guests.”

Kosherica programs include stays at the PGA in Florida and Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas, while Hafikoman has been holding its annual Passover program at the Hotel Marriott Puerto Vallarta for nearly a decade.

For those hoping to get away for the spring holiday and avoid the laborious task of preparing their kitchens for Pesach, Edelstein advises, “Book early.”

“Literally everything is taken care of for you,” echoed Doni Schwartz, co-founder of Passover Listings, the leading “Jewish Travel TripAdvisor and Yelp” for Passover programs. Passover Listings provides Pesach travelers from all around the world an easy way to find Pesach vacations and hotels where travelers can not only read honest and reliable Passover program reviews but also search by price, location and even amenities, including beachfront rooms, basketball courts, skiing, poolside barbecue and more.

In an interview, Schwartz said there was limited Passover travel in 2021 because of COVID-19, but early inquiries suggested 2022 would see a significant bounce-back in Passover travel, with many new programs offered.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Hafikoman Passover was one of the few programs to operate this past year.

“We had a very successful 2021 Passover without infections among guests nor staff,” Zlochisty said.

From the looks of it, 2022 will be even more successful. According to Schwartz, approximately 150,000 are expected to participate in a Passover program next year, and he encouraged families seeking a vacation package to visit his website for dependable reviews about the various programs, written by people who have experienced the programs.

“This is why we created the website, passoverlistings.com,” Schwartz said. “We want to offer people the opportunity to make it easier and more transparent for a Pesach vacationer to choose from one of many amazing Passover programs. People who come to our website love it because for the first time ever, they can choose a program based on people who have actually been on the program in the past.”

Likewise, the program operators are focused and happy on having their programs featured on Passover Listings because of the website’s broad Jewish exposure and reach. Pesach Hotels love that they can post their videos and program details and for the first time showcase all their amenities that thousands of people can easily search from.

“They have a strong reach and an active group,” Edelstein of Kosherica agreed.

The significant number of calls and emails received by operators like Kosherica and Hafikoman suggest travelers are ready to put COVID-19 behind them. Operators are also hoping coronavirus cases continue to subside.

“We are hoping that 2022 will be COVID free and we can run our usual amazing programs,” Edelstein said. “We will monitor the situation very carefully and consult with our doctors to implement protocols, if necessary, to ensure that all guests are safe.”

Program operators take on considerable financial risk by putting together these vacation packages, due to the costs of food, entertainment and the hotel.

In the past, high profile and sought-after speakers at these programs have included columnist and media personality Ben Shapiro, musician and reggae star Matisyahu, comedian Avi Liberman and conservative pundit Dennis Prager.

Speaking about the planning required of these programs, “There’s a lot that goes into this,” Schwartz said.

Passover Listings launched in 2019 and has since built up a steady and devoted following of people seeking kosher travel. Its users take advantage of Passover Program Reviews, a dynamic Facebook group, launched in 2018. In the forum, people share their experiences on various Passover travel programs and discuss what they liked and did not enjoy about their programs.

The passoverlistings.com website also features listings of Sukkot programs taking place in September 2021, including Hafikoman’s program at the Dreams Natura Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico—marking the first time Hafikoman is entering the Sukkot travel space—and Kosher Dream’s Moon Palace package, also in Cancun.

Schwartz expressed confidence these next few months will be a busy time in the Passover travel industry and will be a huge bounce-back year for everyone.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Pesach takes place April 15-24, 2022. To read reviews of programs and find pricing before the holiday, visit www.passoverlistings.com

By Ryan Torok

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