Religious Tourism in India

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.

Saudi Arabia:

Mecca city saudi arabia

Mecca city saudi arabia

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

Israel:

Jersusalem- Israel

Jersusalem- Israel

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:

Buddhist Circuit:

buddhism religion

buddhism religion

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Ahoy! Happy World Tourism Day

Many people associate tourism with a recreational activity but as per UNWTO, Tourism is a people-based economic activity built on social interaction. It prospers if it engages the local population by contributing to social values.

World Tourism Day

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) declared 27 September the World Tourism Day with the purpose to raise the awareness of the global community about the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, economic and political value. World Tourism Day (WTD) is a global observance to highlight tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value.

The theme of this year’s World Tourism Day is Tourism and Community Development which is sync with the Bed and Breakfast scheme.

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

UNWTO Theme WTD 2014

Tourism and Bed & Breakfast industry

The Bed and Breakfast industry is not a new concept in the world though it is adopted as a novel idea in the B&B scheme of “Incredible India” over the age old practice of “paying guest accommodation in India”. As per figures of foreign tourist arrival as mentioned in (MoT, Statistics at a Glance, 2012), in countries like France (8.02%), USA (6.3%), China (5.57%), Spain (5.57%), Italy (4.48%) where maximum percentage of foreign tourists arrive every year the shortage of regular commercial accommodation is met by the B&B stays prevalent in these countries but in different modes.

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

UNWTO Definition of Tourism

According to Caroll Cathy, an author of “Travel Weekly”, the utility of B&B type accommodation is increasing as many business travelers are finding that B&B inns suit their needs, and owners are furnishing these guests such equipments as private telephones and computer connection.

The ‘B&B stay’ concept helps in saving huge additional infrastructure costs towards construction of hotels, recycling of waste water, electricity generation ,and  cutting of trees etc. and other materials required for creating additional facilities for accommodation.

Bed and Breakfast logo

Bed and Breakfast

In a country like India, additional land for constructing more hotels is made available by shrinking of forest land, cutting of trees, generation of more electricity & water etc. In Delhi, there is always a shortage of accommodation particularly in budget category during the period of various festivals, carnivals, conventions, functions, national and international conferences etc. These events are generally planned from September to March every year where large number of foreign and domestic tourists arrive in Delhi thereby increasing the demand for more accommodation.

Celebrations in India

Celebrations in India

This day last year

I remember clearly that on this day, last year, as the Managing Director, Delhi Tourism (DTTDC), our Department had facilitated the shooting of the upcoming Rajkumar Hirani’s Bollywood movie PK (Peekay), best known for its Nude-Aamir-Khan poster, in the bustling streets of Delhi by getting the various permissions from various departments.

PK poster- Aamir Khan

PK poster- Aamir Khan

To appreciate our effort, the crew of Peekay held a dinner for Delhi Tourism where we interacted with Aamir Khan, his son, Mr Rajkumar Hirani, Anoushka Sharma and other members.

with Aamir Khan

with Aamir Khan