Globus, the first large tour operator to embrace faith-based travel by creating a religious travel division in 2004, will unveil its 2013 itineraries in the coming week. According to a new religious travel study conducted by TravelStyles and commissioned by Globus, 35 percent of all outbound travelers are interested in taking a religious vacation. And, 17 percent hope to do so in the next five years.
At 16.3 million travelers, the potential market for international religious vacations is sizable. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that it’s grown nearly 5 percent since 2007, despite difficult economic conditions. Some 49 percent of religious travelers view a faith-based vacation as something they need to do to enhance their faith. And, 51 percent also feel more comfortable spending on a religious vacation than a “regular” vacation. Further, according to this same study, 25 percent of travelers are using a faith-based vacation as a motivator to travel internationally for the first time.
And, while the majority of potential religious travelers are motivated by the opportunity to deepen their faith (58 percent), visit the world’s most inspiring destinations (57 percent) and explore the historic roots of their religion (53 percent) on a faith-based vacation, nearly half (45 percent) would like to simply have fun on their journey. To showcase this further, the TravelStyles survey found that 42 percent of religious travelers are looking for a 50/50 blend of activities (50 percent religious/50 percent non-religious activities).
Says Mike Schields, Globus’ managing director of groups and emerging markets, “We get it. A faith-based journey should feel as special—and fun—as it does spiritual. With Globus, travelers can venture through Grand Catholic Italy while also experiencing the glory of the Roman ruins. They can take in the Marian Shrines of Spain and Portugal while savoring paella, tapas and regional wines. Or bring the Old Testament to life in Israel and Jordan while witnessing marvels like the Dead Sea or Petra.”