Updated: May 19
October 2020: As tourism begins to recover, hopefully those tour operators that organize faith trips will soon be back in business and those who are in need of a recharge of their post-2020 religious faith and convictions, can again fly to holy spaces and feel the joy up close of walking on holy ground. Globus Faith focuses on Christians, Dham Yatra on Hinduists, and Asia Buddhist on Buddhists, to name a few.
If you plan and book a trip, a big part of the fun could be meeting with your group to discuss the plans and then to make sure that everything is in order. Cooperate with other religious sites, tourism agencies and cultural routes, in order to create an especially memorable journey. A hiking trail, for example, can connect multiple activities and accommodations, such as the kora around Mount Kailash in Tibet. Missionfinder and Mission Africa are both useful if you are looking to find spiritual energy through giving and sharing your time, in your country or abroad.
Religious sites and places of worship are important meeting grounds for different kinds of visitors and hosts and the best part is the way that tourism can serve to break down cultural and religious barriers, building bridges between people and communities, improving cross-cultural understanding and social cohesion. Levels of religious tourism can be anything from small scale, visiting specific places of worship (temples, altars, etc.), to medium scale, such as visiting Mecca, Jerusalem or the Vatican, and even large scale, such as visiting Israel as a whole.
In 2018, approximately 450 million international trips were made for religious purposes. 25% of travelers are interested in this kind of tourism. Saudi Arabia, for example, received 13 million religious tourists in 2019, and is expected to more than double this number to 30 million visitors by 2030. In the state of Gujarat, in India, almost 36% of all of tourist visits are spiritual tourists. The religious tourism market in Brazil is one the largest tourism segments in that country as well, generated by approximately 20 million trips annually. Of course, COVID-19 has disrupted every tourism segment, and this one is no exception. But when it does come back, spiritual tourism will undoubtedly reclaim if not expand its market share of tourism generally speaking. As a result of the global pandemic and lockdowns, people feel more vulnerable than they did before, and will be seeking contact with the divine, the unknown, the holy.