When the topic of Israel comes up, Debra from Berlin always tells about the first time she got the check at a Tel Aviv neighborhood bar.
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“I was with a friend. We drank four beers between the two of us. We didn’t check the price on the menu, we asked the waiter which beers they had and we ordered. We were shocked when we got the bill ... almost 120 shekels ($34). For that amount I could have maybe seven beers at the bar next to my home in Berlin,” she says.
It turns out that the price of beer is crucial to tourists’ satisfaction with their vacation, and they feel Israel is expensive, says Gal Mor, a partner in Abraham Hostels and Tours.
Some feel the price of beer can be indicative of the cost of the trip altogether. And indeed, Israel isn’t cheap.
The Beer Price Index published by the site goeuro.com surveys the average cost of a third of a liter of beer in bars and supermarkets.
In the 2016 index, Tel Aviv came 10th among 70 cities surveyed, with an average cost of $5.26.
Cognizant of the problem, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin has even consulted with Deloitte Israel about how to make beer cheaper in Israel. Making beer more affordable isn’t his job and he knows it, but, he says, Deloitte had some practical advice that he will be handing on to the finance and economy ministers.
“However esoteric it may sound, it’s true,” says Levin: Beer is expensive in Israel, “and we have to find a way to lower the price significantly, because it is a very important factor for European tourists ... especially in Eilat.”
Ofer Kisch, general manager of sales for Lufthansa Group Israel, says he increasingly hears complaints about Israel’s alcohol prices.
“It bothers people even more than the price of restaurant meals,” Kish said, adding that a drink on the beach or at a bar or restaurant is part of the pleasure of foreign travel — and they discover the price in Israel is three times that at home.