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The peak Passover holiday season is now officially over. Beginning today ? and continuing for the next five weeks ? the prices of vacations both here in Israel and abroad are dropping by tens of percentage points. This drop in prices is in addition to the regular seasonal declines, but don?t expect the good deals to continue through the Independence Day or Shavuot holidays.?

The prices of vacations are now over 30% lower than just a week ago in most cases, said Galit Zakai, the marketing manager for Eshet Tours. Others travel agents put the figure at slightly less, and say prices will also rise again somewhat at the end of May in advance of the summer vacation season.?

The drastic drop in prices compared to last year is the result of the fall in fuel prices, which were at their peak last year, said Yehuda Zafrani, deputy CEO of Ophir Tours. ?

?The price of fuel in this period of 2008 was at its height, two or three times its price today. The economic crisis reduced demand and European hotels have started cutting their prices by 30% to 50%. Add to that the competition in the aviation sector from Israel, which has increased from the entry of more airlines such as BM, which is offering two flights a day to London, Delta which is flying to New York and US Airways which is starting to offer flights to the United States,? explained Zafrani.?

?For example, a ticket to New York after Passover is going for $666 today compared to $1,100-$1,200 in 2008,? said Zafrani. ?The price of a ticket to London in April or May is $360, compared to about $600 last year. A ticket to Barcelona in the April to June period can be bought for $360-$500, compared to $500-$700 last year,? he added. Even prices to destinations such as Beijing and Bangkok have fallen to $750-$900, he said.?

The rise in the dollar, which was in the NIS 3.5 range on average in 2008, has made the drop in shekel terms much less, only 10% to 15%.?

A 20% drop in vacation prices is normal after Passover, said Ariel Atias, the CEO of Walla!Tours. ?But this year, in light of the recession, the prices will go down another 10% and even more. For last-minute reservations the drop is expected to reach 40% compared to the holiday prices,? he said.?

Prices for vacations here in Israel are also showing signs of falling as demand has dropped and hotels are finding themselves stuck with empty rooms.?

Arkia has lowered its ticket prices to Eilat from NIS 377 during the holiday to only NIS 219, and Eilat hotels have cut their prices by even half after the holidays.