Cancellation of heritage trips to cost Israeli economy $200 million, report says
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Cancellation of heritage trips to cost Israeli economy $200 million, report says

Pandemic, travel restrictions force halt to visits by about 60,000 young Jews through programs sponsored by Birthright, Masa, Jewish schools, youth groups

Illustrative: Participants of Taglit Birthright, on a free trip to Israel, visit the waterfalls at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve near the Dead Sea. (Melanie Fidler/Flash90 via JTA)
Illustrative: Participants of Taglit Birthright, on a free trip to Israel, visit the waterfalls at the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve near the Dead Sea. (Melanie Fidler/Flash90 via JTA)

JTA — The cancellation of trips for Jewish youths and young adults due to the coronavirus crisis is set to cost the Israeli economy about $200 million.

Trips for about 60,000 young Jews planned for the spring and summer have been canceled, the Calcalist business daily reported.

The heritage trips include programs sponsored by Birthright Israel-Taglit, Masa, and Jewish schools and youth groups.

The estimated loss does not include revenue from air travel.

Israel closed its borders to non-citizens on March 18. It has twice pushed back reopening to foreigners, with a tentative date set to allow in non-citizens for July 1.

All arrivals from abroad must enter self-quarantine for two weeks.

The Ministry of Interior approved special visas to people attending Masa’s long-term programs in Israel, with the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The Israel Experience-Educational Tourism Services Ltd., which organizes many of the heritage trips including Birthright, told Calcalist that it has lost $40 million in revenue in the past four months and put 75 percent of its employees on unpaid leave.

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