Friday, March 31, 2023

Wait. What? We didn’t even go on our summer vacation yet. What about Sukkot and winter break? Do I already need to be thinking about reserving a Passover program for Pesach 2023? The answer to that is YES!


This might surprise many people but it’s not too early to be researching and even thinking about booking a Passover program. The summer is underway, and people are still booking summer vacations. The Passover program industry is a completely different vacation market. Any other time of year, you can always find a place for vacation. The possibilities are almost endless. During the year, kosher food is widely available in cities around the world. Chabad houses can be found just about everywhere. You can bring along some food and eat Shabbat meals at Chabad. The biggest restrictions on Passover are food related. Most kosher restaurants close for Passover. Outside of Israel, it’s difficult to plan your own vacation without joining a Passover program. 


Although Passover ended less than three months ago, program operators are already organizing for Pesach 2023. Many program operators run their programs at the same hotel every year and have already closed their deals. Other operators are in negotiations. That eight-day holiday program takes almost a year to organize. There are a lot of moving parts. It’s not something that can be planned a month in advance. The program operators are certainly thinking about Passover programs for 2023 and so should you.


Many families go to the same Passover program each year. They have already booked their spots for Passover 2023. Others who prefer to go to a new location each year have already researched programs and locations so they can book early. Passover 2022 saw an unprecedented demand for Pesach programs. Program operators were receiving inquiries literally up until the holiday began. Passover programs in 2022 sold out very quickly. After two years at home making Passover, everyone was ready to get away for the holiday. There weren’t enough programs to keep up with the demand. 


Before COVID, the Passover programs industry was on a growth trajectory. As Passover is a labor-intensive holiday, many families choose to go on vacation at that time of year. Over the past 20 years, the industry had grown to more than 140 programs throughout the world. After all programs were canceled in 2020 due to COVID, people were eager to get away for Passover 2021. There was limited programming in 2021 due to COVID lockdowns and restrictions but those programs were all sold out. Most people stayed close to home. Passover programs came back big in 2022. Many programs sold out months before Passover. 


People were finally able to travel to programs for Pesach 2022. Some people like to travel to different countries every year and see the world on Passover programs. Skies didn’t fully open until closer to Passover last year, so some people waited to book programs overseas. Israel, for example, didn’t open to tourists until March 2022 but all the programs in Israel sold out. Last year, there was still some uncertainty about whether countries would lock down and flights would be canceled. Nobody can predict the future, but it doesn’t look like countries will be locking down due to COVID. Seems like the world has learned to live with COVID since it doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.


Some program operators were hesitant about running Passover programs in 2021. They were more confident in 2022 but there were still some operators who chose to wait another year due to continued uncertainty. Now that travel and tourism seem to be back to normal, there will probably be even more Passover programs in 2023. There will be more programs in different cities around the world. There will be more options but still might not be enough to satisfy the unprecedented demand for Passover programs of the past two years. 


All this is to say that it is not too early to start researching Passover programs for 2023. If you are planning to join a program, then first thing to do is figure out where you want to go. Check out the TotallyJewishTravel.com comprehensive guide to Passover programs around the world. There are programs in cities throughout the United States, with Florida being extremely popular over the past two years. Programs in Miami and Orlando tend to sell out very quickly. There are many popular programs in Europe, Bahamas, South America, Mexico, Dubai, Morocco, Panama and South Africa. The programs vary in price, amenities and guests. There are programs for different budgets. The Passover programs offer different amenities, such as kids programming, entertainment, lectures and day trips. Another thing to consider is the crowd at the program, whether there is separate swimming and the level of kashrut. It is important to research all these issues to be sure to find the right program for your family. Even more important is to start early. It doesn’t help to find the perfect program only to discover that it is sold out.

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