Recommend July 2017 - 22

The Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany,
where Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses.



On Faith
Carla Hunt

With close to 350 million people-a World
Tourism Organization estimate-traveling
each year for religious and pilgrimage reasons,
faith tourism has become a significant global
industry that extends from cruises to volunteer
vacations. Fueling extra religious interest
in Europe this year is the 500th anniversary
of the Reformation, for it was in 1517 that
Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door
of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany,
setting off the Protestant Reformation. In
Portugal, another major faith-based European
celebration marks the 100th anniversary
of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima,
whose shrine, along with the Vatican, are
Europe's two most-visited pilgrimage sites.
And coming up in 2020 is the spectacular
Oberammergau Passion Play, which re-enacts
the crucifixion of Christ and is performed
once every decade in the small Bavarian
village of Oberammergau.
Such major religious events give a boost
to the ever-expanding market of religious or
faith-based travel, according to Kari Hansen,
travel consultant at Travel Leaders Market
Square. "When putting travel programs
together for churches, it helps to be a
member," says Hansen, "and your business
grows by word of mouth from church to
church. Ministers, priests and rabbis, of course,
play a major roll in organizing and marketing
travel for their congregations, and often one's
leisure clients are helpful in providing new
introductions in this religious travel market."
Hansen points out that faith-based travel is
basically a group-tour market, and her groups
22 july 2017

average 20 to 25 persons. She unequivocally
recommends working with tour operators
who specialize in the market, guaranteeing
knowledgeable guides and operations with
good contacts. "They also provide the bestbang-for-the-buck value, important in this
price-conscious market," adds Hansen, "and
which tour operator I use depends on the
itinerary the client wants. For groups, I go to
Globus, CIE Tours and Trafalgar, and for
independent religious travelers, whose price
point is higher, I work with Tauck."
"Journeys you can believe in," describes the
faith-based program of Globus, whose tour
offerings in Europe are escorted, mostly allinclusive and date-specific to Italy, Germany,
France & Spain, Greece & Turkey, Great
Britain and Ireland. Globus family member
Cosmos focuses on the destinations that are
central to the Catholic faith such as Italy,
Portugal, Spain and Poland.
According to Joanna Dyer, Globus' director
of customer sales and specialty markets, "this
year's tours that focused on the life of Luther
and visiting key Reformation sites basically
sold out; looking ahead, we already have in
place our programs for 2020, highlighting
the Oberammergau Passion Play in nine
secular itineraries and four religious tours,
one of the latter to be a Cosmos product."
Dyer points out that the faith-based market,
which continues to expand substantially
every year, is a strong repeat market. "Church
groups generally like to travel together every
other year or for specific anniversaries, so
most certainly for Germany, it's ideal that

Oberammergau follows the Reformation
anniversary." However, she notes that while
Catholic groups are more shrine-oriented,
Protestant travelers go everywhere, liberally
mixing sacred and mainstream sightseeing.
Bottom line, according to Dyer: "The
religious market is a strong repeat market and
a resilient one, less affected by negative news
and safety fears."
Among other tour operators with
interesting, strong programs in the faith-based
market, consider:
■ Collette's Faith Tours, which connect
travelers to unforgettable and inspiring sites
in Europe. This year, Collette welcomes
travelers on an 11-day On the Trail of Martin
Luther tour; a 10-day St. Patrick's Ireland tour;
and an 11-day Shrines of Italy tour. On the
company website, find "10 reasons why your
church needs to start a group travel program,"
and then be sure to ask for the Collette
"Religious Travel Planning Guide" to research
and organize faith-based adventures.
■ Homeric Tours' Christian Faith Tours
program offers an extensive roster of
itineraries designed to guide planners through
a range of Christian touring possibilities
for group travel. There are Catholic tours
focused on Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal;
the Catholic heritage in Central Europe-
Austria-the Czech Republic-Hungary-Poland;
Christian Orthodox tours following in the
footsteps of St. Paul through Greece, Cyprus,
Turkey, Malta, Italy, Armenia and Georgia;
and Protestant tours, as well as Methodist or
Anglican heritage tours in England.
■ Trafalgar, experts in pilgrimage itineraries,
creates tours that include significant religious
sites and places of pilgrimage in Europe
and the Eastern Med. The most popular
destinations are Portugal, Spain and France,
where inspirational highlights include Fatima,
Santiago de Compostela, and Lourdes.
Exploring the sites of religious significance
takes travelers to the Vatican City, Assisi,
Padua, Florence, Venice and San Giovanni
Rotondo; visiting Medjugorje is
the spiritual highlight of a Bosnia &
Herzegovina tour; and itineraries in Greece
& Turkey travel to many biblical sites
including Corinth, Thessalonika, Patmos,
Istanbul and Ephesus. ■
Contact Information
Globus family of brands:
Homeric Tours:

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend July 2017

Recommend July 2017 - 1
Recommend July 2017 - 2
Recommend July 2017 - 3
Recommend July 2017 - 4
Recommend July 2017 - 5
Recommend July 2017 - 6
Recommend July 2017 - 7
Recommend July 2017 - 8
Recommend July 2017 - 9
Recommend July 2017 - 10
Recommend July 2017 - 11
Recommend July 2017 - 12
Recommend July 2017 - 13
Recommend July 2017 - 14
Recommend July 2017 - 15
Recommend July 2017 - 16
Recommend July 2017 - 17
Recommend July 2017 - 18
Recommend July 2017 - 19
Recommend July 2017 - 20
Recommend July 2017 - 21
Recommend July 2017 - 22
Recommend July 2017 - 23
Recommend July 2017 - 24
Recommend July 2017 - 25
Recommend July 2017 - 26
Recommend July 2017 - 27
Recommend July 2017 - 28