Eurovision tourists face exorbitant hotel prices

Tel Aviv seafront Photo: Tamar Matsafi

Skyrocketing accommodation prices in Tel Aviv are driving tourists to look for places to stay outside of the city.

Prices of accommodation in Tel Aviv are skyrocketing, driving tourists to search for places to stay in neighboring cities during the Eurovision Song Contest, only to discover that prices during the week of the event are very high there, too. A survey by the HotelsCombined website shows the prices demanded from tourists by apartment owners and hotels. Will this deter thousands of tourists from visiting Israel?

A tourist looking for accommodation in Tel Aviv must be prepared to spend thousands of shekels. Overnight rates during Eurovision Song Contest week are double or more the prices of two nights on an ordinary weekend (in late May). For example, Eurovision Song Contest weekend (May 17-19) in the 22 Rothschild Hotel in Tel Aviv costs NIS 7,600, compared with NIS 2,000 on an ordinary weekend (May 31-June 2). The cost of Eurovision weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) in the Crown Plaza City Center Hotel is NIS 4,420, compared with NIS 1,500 for an ordinary weekend. Eurovision weekend in the Tel Aviv Sheraton Hotel costs NIS 4,400, compared with NIS 2,400 for two nights in late May.

Proximity to the sea is important. Eurovision weekend in Hotel De La Mare costs NIS 7,000, compared with NIS 1,166 on an ordinary weekend. The NIS 2,140 price of an ordinary weekend at the Gordon Hotel rises to NIS 3,900 during Eurovision weekend. Eurovision weekend in the Cucu Hotel costs NIS 7,600, compared with only NIS 1,800 for a weekend two weeks later.

Do you want to pamper yourself with a vacation weekend apartment in Tel Aviv during Eurovision weekend? It will cost you NIS 15,000 for a Gordon Street beach apartment, compared with NIS 11,000 on an ordinary weekend. This apartment has a balcony that can accommodate up to four guests - and be quick about it, because only once such apartment is still available. A Trust Inn apartment in the Carmel market, also with space for up to four guests, not to mention a WiFi balcony, will set you back NIS 7,500 on Eurovision weekend, but a mere NIS 3,000 if you take it two weeks later.

Even the hostels are raising their prices. Two nights in a room for a couple in a penthouse hostel in Old Jaffa costs NIS 1,650 on Eurovision weekend, compared with NIS 1,000 on an ordinary weekend. A bed in a dormitory room with six other guests in the 48 Hayarkon hostel starts at NIS 820 during Eurovision weekend, 40% more than on an ordinary weekend.

Not only in Tel Aviv

The horrifying prices are leading visitors to look for accommodation outside of Tel Aviv. What tourists do not realize is that looking for a place to sleep at a reasonable distance from Tel Aviv, i.e. within a 20-30-kilometer radius, is not nearly as useful as in most European countries. They do not know that there is no public transportation on the Sabbath, or that public transportation is defective in general; in most cities, including Tel Aviv, buses lack signs and public announcements in English.

HotelsCombined reveals that 72% of Europeans seeking accommodation on the Internet also scan the cities around Tel Aviv: Herzliya, Ramat Hasharon, Ramat Gan, Givatayim, Holon, and Bat Yam. 39% of all searchers also consider accommodation in Ra'anana, Kfar Saba, Petah Tikva, and Rishon Lezion. 22% also look into accommodation in Netanya, Rosh HaAyin, and Rehovot. Accommodation at a reasonable distance from Tel Aviv could have been a feasible option with greater mobility. In any case, demand is sending prices soaring.

A survey of apartment prices in various cities for the Eurovision Song Contest weekend reveals an apartment in Rishon Lezion priced at NIS 5,413. After the Eurovision Song Contest, this apartment is no longer available. It is unclear whether the owners will strike it rich by finding a tourist willing to pay this ridiculous price, but many apartment owners, including in Tel Aviv, plan on vacating their apartments, believing that they can rake in thousands of shekels.

This pattern is not confined to Tel Aviv. HotelsCombined displays an apartment in Rehovot priced at NIS 3,000 for Eurovision weekend, compared with NIS 900 on an ordinary weekend. The owners of a Ramat Gan apartment are asking NIS 3,300 for the crucial weekend, compared with NIS 1,730 on an ordinary weekend. The price of the May 18 weekend in a Bat Yam apartment is NIS 3,418, compared with NIS 1,410 on an ordinary weekend, and the owners of a short-term rental apartment in Herzliya doubled their usual NIS 1,120 weekend price to NIS 2,100. The price of an apartment in Ra'anana on Eurovision weekend is NIS 1,800, compared with NIS 900 on ordinary weekends.

Incidentally, there is nothing unusual about what Israelis are doing. "We're seeing similar things for international events that are greatly in demand," says HotelsCombined business development manager Ayal Segal. "For example, at Prince Harry's wedding, residents of Windsor raised the price of an overnight to tens of thousands of shekels. During the World Cup, Russians turned their homes into improvised hostels accommodating large numbers of tourists."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 25, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

Tel Aviv seafront Photo: Tamar Matsafi
Tel Aviv seafront Photo: Tamar Matsafi
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