Definition of religious tourism
Religious tourism can be defined as travel with the core motive of experiencing religious forms, or ancillary products such as art, culture, etc. India is an ancient civilization and boasts of rich cultural and religious heritage. In India, in the blog, we shall analyze the International scenario of Religious tourism and the scope of Religious tourism in India. Religious tourism is a significant and rapidly growing segment within the tourism industry. It is sometimes referred to as faith tourism, faith-based travel, Christian travel, Muslim travel, or any other religious denomination linked with the words ‘travel’ or ‘tourism’.
International scenario of Religious tourism:
As a sector, religious tourism is not well researched and documented. But in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, religious tourism is the most significant type of tourism, and consequently the authorities measure it as a clearly defined activity.
More than 7m pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia’s holy sites every year with religious tourists spending about US$10,000 per visit. The revenue from the pilgrims to the holy city of Makkah, Madinah and other religious sites in the kingdom, accounts for about 3 percent of the kingdom’s gross domestic product
In 2013, more than 3.5 million tourists visited Israel. Twenty-two percent defined the goal of their visit to Israel as a pilgrimage which accounts for almost 0.77 million religious tourists.
Religious tourism in India:
India is a land of pilgrimages. India has the unique distinction of being the birth-place of four important religions of the world – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Practically, all religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism , Sikhism and Sufism have their major and minor pilgrimage centers in different parts of the country. Apart from the holy rivers and the teerth sthanas, India also houses the Shakti Peeths, the Jyotirlingas as well as the four sacred shrines of Adi Shankaracharya in the four corners of the country. Some important circuits based on the importance of the religious places can be identified. According to a recent annual report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 2014 is expected to be a year of “above-average growth” for travel and tourism in India. WTTC’s Annual Economic Impact Report 2014 for India shows travel and tourism’s economic contribution is expected to grow by 7.3 percent this year, outperforming the general economy by 2.5 percentage points. Revenue from domestic tourism is expected to increase by 8.2 percent this year compared to 5.1 percent in 2013, the report noted.
Initiatives taken by the Government to boost Religious tourism
With a view to overcome challenges, facilitate travel to and stay at religious places, The Ministry of Tourism has already identified 35 destinations in phase I and shall cover another 89 destinations in phase II. The historic places associated with these religions are spread all over the country. Both foreign and domestic tourists would like to visit more than one place of their religion if proper planning and requisite facilities are made available to them. These religious circuits would cover Hinduism, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh and Sufi circuits.
Integrated Tourism Circuits: