About 65% of the ultra-Orthodox public in Israel prefer to vacation in the country rather than travel overseas, a survey conducted for the Tourism Ministry reveals.
About 57% of the haredi sector went on a vacation in Israel this year, 60% of them choosing to travel to the north. About 30% used the Internet as their source of information in selecting a vacation.
The survey was part of a general study conducted by the Israel Government Advertising Agency (LAPAM) via Yifat Gat Ltd. Brands in July 2013, with the objective of getting to know the characteristics of the haredi sector, their vacationing habits and the current obstacles.
The survey also showed that many haredi families take one vacation a year, either as a couple or as a family, thanks to the increasing supply of suitable vacation accommodation.
According to the survey, the north of Israel and Jerusalem are the most popular holiday destinations. Preference is given to areas rich in tourist attractions that offer a vacation which combines rest and nature with activities – for example, ATVs, factory tours and proximity to rabbis' graves.
Preference is also given to areas that include water hikes, places of entertainment with kosher facilities and prayer sites. The areas in the south of the country and the resort town of Eilat are less popular with the haredi sector.
The Tourism Ministry said in a statement that it sees great potential in tourism for the haredi sector in general, as a result of the survey which showed that domestic tourism does not compete with a vacation overseas.
The ministry says it is interested in developing this sector and is currently working in two areas: Advertising the tourism product to the haredi sector and encouraging tourism associations in the south to make their attractions and accommodation facilities attractive to the haredi sector.
Tourism Minister Uzi Landau is holding discussions regarding professional training for haredi tour guides in the areas relevant to that sector.
Seeking educational value
The Tourism Ministry has invested NIS 400,000 ($114,200) to date in a radio campaign and on "kosher" Internet, and is in the process of producing a video to encourage haredi tourism to southern Israel. The clip showcases the touring and accommodation options in the south, as well as suitable attractions and hikes.
The ministry intends to invest up to another NIS 500,000 ($142,700) in marketing tourism information to the haredi sector.
The survey analyzed the differences between modern and conservative haredim and listed the unique characteristics of the average haredi family, including the large number of children, the family budget being dependent on the wife as the main or only breadwinner, and a short family vacation period of only three weeks.
The haredi family seeks educational value in their family vacations, viewing them as an essential tool in "recharging their batteries." It would appear that modern haredim have similar guiding principles to secular or traditional vacationers when it comes to preparing for the holiday – underlining the importance of good and plentiful food, a jacuzzi, spa and an atmosphere of a holiday overseas.
Nonetheless, while the haredi vacationer may want to change his environment and cut off from routine, he must find an environment that suits his unique needs, albeit not necessarily isolating himself in a dedicated hotel for haredi vacationers.
The ministry also checked to see what prevented some haredi respondents from taking a vacation this year. Fifty percent attributed it to "lack of time" or said they "did not take a holiday," 38% cited economic reasons, 7% said they do not normally take a vacation, 2% said it was "because of the children," 2% cited "health reasons" and 7% did not know or had no special reason.
"The Tourism Ministry sees great potential in the haredi market," Tourism Minister Landau said in response to the findings. "This increase is in line with the upward trend in domestic tourism in the last year.
"In addition to the large supply of sites and camping grounds that are suitable for the haredi sector and attractive nature reserves, there is an educational value to a 'blue-and-white' holiday."