(JNS.org) Birthright Israel, the nonprofit educational organization that sponsors free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jewish adults, has contributed roughly $1.1 billion to the Israeli economy since it began, a new study by the firm Ernst & Young shows.
The report found that Birthright directly contributed about $840 million to the Israeli economy through hotel stays, flights and tour group hires, while it indirectly contributed roughly $325 million through other expenses like food, souvenirs and trip extensions.
Additionally, the study found that Birthright participants make up 12 percent of the total number of tourists from June to August and December to January, twice the annual average for overall tourism during those off-peak times.
Since 2000, Birthright has provided no-cost trips to more than a half million Jewish young adults aged 18-26.
“This new report validates the success of our program and reinforces one of our main goals: to have participants return to Israel and foster relationships with its people throughout their lifetime,” Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said in a statement.
Birthright will “have an even greater impact on Israel in the near future as participants decide to work at Israeli companies or start businesses of their own in Israel,” Mark added.