Faith tourism not a target

Religious travel or what is being dubbed ‘faith tourism’ is something that has been considered by the Department of Tourism, but is not currently being pursued by them.

‘We’ve talked about it, but it’s not something we’re pursuing at this time,’ said Manager, Public Relations, DoT Kathryn Jackson.

Faith tourism or religious travel involving retreats or religious meetings is a growing trend among Americans.

Mrs Jackson explained that the DoT talks about a lot of ideas, but it just does not have the money to pursue everything.

For the moment the DoT must concentrate on its main markets, she said. These core markets have always been sun, sand, sea seekers and family.

According to a recent Marketing and Tourism Trends newsletter, the Religious Conference Management Association’s annual member survey reveals that the number of meetings conducted by RCMA members increased 8.2 per cent; it’s the third year in a row that the number of meetings reported has shown a big gain.

The survey also shows that resort hotels and camps and retreats continue to grow in popularity as sites for religious meetings.

Also, the need for supplier services has never been greater, with increase in the use of audiovisual services, ground transportation/tours, car rentals, and catering.

The popularity of international meetings is growing quickly, up to 9.1 per cent of meetings in 2005, up from 8.6 per cent in 2004.

It is reported that overseas religious and pilgrimage travel attracts more than 600,000 American participants a year, according to the US Office of Travel & Tourism Industries.

In June St. Lucia played host to a faith tourism retreat for women organised by US journalist and speaker Andria Hall.

She has planned another for the Bahamas from 30 November to 3 December this year.

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