Keeping the Faith: Religious Tourism on Limelight

Faith-based attractions has been on the rise lately. As many travel analysts and spiritual  studies have noted, more and more people of every faith are visiting places for religious purposes.

This means more than just purely leisure, people are now seeking for spiritual renewal or to some extent, the deeper meaning of their lives, among others.

According to the World Religious Travel Association, faith-based travelers and groups spend $300 million flocking to pilgrimage destinations including Jerusalem, Mecca, the Vatican, and other significant spiritual sites.

Here are some three interesting facts you need to know about religious tourism:

1. One of the oldest type of tourism in the World

Even before the term “religious tourism,” “spiritual tourism” or  “ faith-based tourism” was coined, human beings have been traveling to pilgrimage sites.  Pilgrimages to holy places were evident as early as the dawn of humanity.

According to the encyclopedia of Religion and Society, in the pre-Christian times, “The oracle at Delphi played an especially important role in ancient Greece. The panhellenic religious feasts held at Olympia every four years and at Delphi led to the two sites becoming famous outside Greece. The oracle at Delphi, in particular, exercised a strong attraction, drawing a large number of pilgrims.”

2. Faith-based tourism, one of the fastest business growth areas in holiday industry

Even before the term “religious tourism,” “spiritual tourism” or  “ faith-based tourism” was coined, human beings have been traveling to pilgrimage sites.  Pilgrimages to holy places were evident as early as the dawn of humanity.

According to the encyclopedia of Religion and Society, in the pre-Christian times, “The oracle at Delphi played an especially important role in ancient Greece. The panhellenic religious feasts held at Olympia every four years and at Delphi led to the two sites becoming famous outside Greece. The oracle at Delphi, in particular, exercised a strong attraction, drawing a large number of pilgrims.”

3. Economic downturn and disasters have less effect in religious tourism compared to other types of tourism

Faith ignites inner strength, all for the hope of a good outcomes. We’ve read a lot of headlines about steadfast pilgrims who, despite typhoons and other hindrances, remained unfazed – thanks to their unceasing faith and devotion.

In fact, in 2015  almost 1.2 million faithful attended Mecca amidst three serious threats–increased violent extremism, a surge of the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus, (MERS-CoV) and with Saudi Arabia at war with Yemen.

The Philippines, too has a somewhat similar case. Just look at the  the frenzied devotees of the  Black Nazarene procession which seems to grow each year, despite reports of injuries due to overcrowding. But of course, we need a separate article for this colorful Filipino religious practice.

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