What Is Religious Tourism And What Are The Challenges It Is Facing?

Religious tourism, which is also known as faith tourism, is the type of tourism whereby people of faith travel individually or in groups for reasons related to religion or spirituality in their quest for meaning. It could be under pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure purposes. Practiced since the dawn of civilization, religious tourism one of the oldest forms of tourism. For religious travelers, it is not a vacation exactly but, a transformational journey during which, new insights are given, a deeper understanding is attained, new and old places in the heart are visited, blessings are received, healing takes place, and after this journey, life is seen with different eyes.

Religious Tourism, Buddhist Temples in India
Buddhist Monk Praying In Sarnath Temple

Pilgrims pay homage to the sacred places and their Gods by traveling around the world (or even if just in the country). These sacred or holy sites may include the place of birth or death of founders (or saints), or the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to have lived, or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. The religious tourists attach spiritual importance to these sites, which are commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit. These benefits would be:

  •         to confirm, deepen or reflect upon their faith,
  •         to be healed
  •         or have their questions answered 

Due to these goals, religious travelers are known to be committed travelers. They tend to save up for their religious experiences. As a result, the religious tourism segment is known to be less sensitive to economic ups and downs than the overall tourism market.

Religious tourism includes many facets of the travel industry; for example:

  1.   Visit religious tourist attractions
  2.     Go for pilgrimages: Pilgrimage, as a part of religious tourism, is the act of moving from one place to another, often traveling through foreign lands; an ordered march of a group of people, usually with a religious connotation.
  3.   Monastery visits and guest stays
  4.   Retreats
  5.   Faith-based cruises and Faith-based camps
  6.   Religious conventions and rallies
  7.   Leisure (fellowship) vacations

The most famous and most visited Religious Destinations are:

  1.   Vatican City, Italy
  2.   Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel
  3.   Bodhi Gaya, Bodh, India
  4.   Karnak Temple complex, Egypt
  5.   Golden Temple, Amritsar
  6.   Notre Dame, Paris, France
  7.   Al-Haram Mosque, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
  8.   Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City
  9.   Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams Temple, Andhra Pradesh, India
  10.   Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi, India

Challenges faced by the management of Religious tourism are:

  1.   Poor infrastructure,
  2.   Hassling,
  3.   Heritage trafficking,
  4.   Limited community participation,
  5.   Cultural degradation, and
  6.   Lack of attention

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