A line of cars snaked into Eilat yesterday afternoon and all flights to the city were fully booked - despite fears of poor attendance at a jazz festival there, following recent terror attacks in the south.
The producers of the Red Sea Jazz Festival, now under way in the southern city, were happy to see that a convoy of cars more than 10 kilometers long stretched back along the road from the entrance to Eilat.
"Four thousand people on the first day [of the festival] would make me very happy," Miki Gov, the festival's producer, told Haaretz about an hour before the festival opened. He said very few people had asked for their money back following cancelations by four overseas artists, out of a total of 11, due to the recent tensions in the south.
Jazz singer Lizz Wright canceled this morning, following cancelations by three other artists, as reported in yesterday's Haaretz.
Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov and Culture and Sports Ministry's director general Orly Fruman will be arriving tomorrow and will take part in the festival's traditional cocktail party tomorrow afternoon.
The show's producers were able to sign up Jason Lindner, the Cohen Brothers and Roberto Rodriguez as last-minute substitutes for the canceled shows.
Avishai Cohen, the festival's musical director and a jazz musician in his own right, will be volunteering a performance, and news of another last-minute substitute - Israeli folk-rocker Asaf Avidan appearing with Chilean vocalist Karni Postel - brought crowds of young fans to the ticket offices to buy tickets.
"I have a feeling this will be special in a way it would not have otherwise been," Cohen said. "The artists are wonderful and I'm sure they'll be at their peak for this festival."
"I'm giving more of myself because of this situation," he added.
Gov said he still had two more concert slots and said they would probably be filled by overseas artists.
Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi told reporters: "We've been facing last-ditch battles here since Thursday," referring to the cancelations. "I thought that at this time, with a cloud of sadness over the south, including Eilat, it's the right thing to do to sell tickets to residents of Eilat and the Eilot region at the special price of NIS 30."
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