Good Faith

Kenneth Shapiro This issue’s cover story, “Traveling on Faith” (page 16), reports on one of the fastest-growing niche markets in travel. According to some estimates, the religious travel industry is worth $18 billion worldwide, with one quarter of all travelers (split evenly among different age groups) sa

By: Kenneth Shapiro

This issue’s cover story, “Traveling on Faith” (page 16), reports on one of the fastest-growing niche markets in travel. According to some estimates, the religious travel industry is worth $18 billion worldwide, with one quarter of all travelers (split evenly among different age groups) saying they’re currently interested in taking a “spiritual vacation,” according to a study by the Travel Industry Association of America.

For agents, this market is essential. Not only is it made up of easily reachable, cohesive affinity groups, but there are a growing number of suppliers and organizations standing by to lend agents a hand. For instance, when I met with Israel’s minister of tourism late last year, he informed me that he planned to create a full-time position in Southern California dedicated solely to religious travel, in particular reaching out to the region’s evangelicals.

Now, as we go to press, another organization has been created for those who are interested in the religious travel market. The World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) represents the combining of forces of two leading groups, the Religious Market Consulting Group and Christian Travel Finder.

“WRTA’s overall mission is simple and clear,” said Kevin J. Wright, executive director of WRTA. “We will advise and assist the travel industry in working with the religious market, and establish faith-based vacations as a key travel option for the religious consumer.”

You can read about the organization in our cover story, and if you have more questions, be sure to check out the WRTA Web site at www.religioustravelassociation.com. This is an opportunity no agent can afford to pass up. K.S.

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