The Taglit-Birthright program has contributed over three quarters of a billion dollars to Israel’s economy since its establishment in 2000, according to a study released by international accounting firm Ernst & Young on Tuesday.

A joint venture of the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and American philanthropists, Birthright has brought over 350,000 young Jews for the first time to Israel on free 10-day trips. The program has been considered a success due to studies linking participation with a lowered rate of intermarriage.

Over 565 million of the 825 million total Birthright-related dollars spent in Israel were “direct contributions such as travel, admissions and tour guides,” according to a release issued on behalf of Birthright.

Participants and private tour operators and organizations running trips on behalf of Taglit spent over $228m. on airfare, $59m. on hotels, $41m. on food, $28m. on buses, $38m. on guided tours and $72m. for security.

A total of $100m. was also spent on other activities such as “Taglit-Birthright Israel training institute for tour educators, Excel summer internship program, Genesis enrichment program for Russian speakers, Mifgashim – multi-day peer meetings with Israeli soldiers and students, Holocaust seminar with Yad Vashem and the BRI extension program,” the release stated.

“Indirect contributions,” which were described as local spending by participants, trip extensions and return trips, totaled $260m.

“For years we have conducted research showing our program’s effectiveness in promoting Jewish continuity. With this study, we validate the important contribution we make to the Israeli economy. This study shows the critical role we play as one of the leading tour operators in the country and the positive impact we make on businesses in Israel,” Taglit CEO Gidi Mark stated.

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