September 27, 2009
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The Kingdom’s hotel sector is witnessing a remarkable growth due to significant surge in religious tourism, which according to recent reports has achieved an astonishing 30 percent growth in the first quarter of 2009 alone.Saudi Arabia is expected to generate a total of SR13 billion during the current Umrah season, a key figure that will help strengthen the Kingdom’s status as one of the top tourist destinations and a leading hotel market in the Middle East.
Elaf Group has particularly prepared for the new Umrah season that started in February 2009, noting a considerable growth trend of around 3.5 million pilgrims are expected to visit the Kingdom in the current Umrah season.Religious tourism in the Kingdom generates around $7 billion annually, according to recent reports, while the government has allocated a total of $38 billion in tourism infrastructure and transport systems, including a high-speed railway system that will link Jeddah, Makkah and Madina – three key travel destinations in the Kingdom.
The tourism sector generates billions of dollars in revenue and provides jobs for more than 342,000 people in areas related to hotels, resorts, furnished apartments, cafes, travel agencies, transportation and entertainment. Earlier reports also said that religious tourism accounts for some two-thirds of all earnings in the international tourism sector and one-third of domestic tourism revenue. It also helps to make Saudi Arabia the top destination in the Middle East in terms of international tourist arrivals.
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Our Lady of Beshwat, a Christian shrine in eastern Lebanon, has become a popular tourist attraction in the multi-confessional Mediterranean country which plans to boost religious tourism after a bumper tourist season in 2009.
Nada Sardouk, director general of Lebanon's tourism ministry, stresses the "human and economic importance of boosting religious tourism". "We have an incredible wealth of religions," Sardouk said, referring to the 18 official confessions in Lebanon.
Monasteries, churches and mausoleums abound in Lebanon, which remains a Christian stronghold in the largely Muslim Arab world, although Muslims form the majority of the population of some four million.
The tourism ministry plans to release a film about Lebanon's many religious sites and a book on 20 roads leading to both Christian and Muslim holy sites. The book, named "The Paths of Faith", is to be released at the end of September.
September 21, 2009
Faith-based Marketing Revenue Secrets: Featuring Two Industry Experts
Wednesday, Nov. 18, 10:15–11:30 a.m.
Kevin J. Wright, president, World Religious Travel Association
Greg Stielstra, author, Faith-based Marketing and Pyromarketing
An Industry First! Join Kevin J. Wright, president of NTA strategic partner the World Religious Travel Association, and Greg Stielstra, North America’s top faith-based marketing authority, as together they lead a fascinating and remarkable discussion on how to effectively work with the $18 billion faith-based market. From pilgrimages, missions and conventions to adventure trips, leisure vacations and cruises, “religious travel and hospitality” is much broader than most people think. With two industry-leading experts at the helm, Kevin and Greg will change the way you do business forever with this new clientele and revenue opportunity.
September 6, 2009
Premier-designate Saad Hariri held on to equal shares of power and stressed that Christian-Muslim coexistence was Lebanon's true message."We want Lebanon to remain a place for inter-religious union and dialogue and we want Christians and Muslims in this country to maintain equal shares regardless of numbers of demographics," Hariri said during an Iftar in Qoreitem on Wednesday.
Hariri said he was working on forming a national unity government that would include all political parties "so as to counter Israeli threats and tackle economic and social challenges."
The PM-designate told religious figures during the Iftar that promoting the tourism sector would be one of his cabinet's top priorities.
"I also wish to promote religious tourism, especially pilgrimage to Christian vestiges such as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Harissa and the southern town of Qana," he said.
In recent years, Syria has been making inroads in promoting itself as a popular destination for cultural and religious tourism and attracting visitors from across the globe. Furthermore, new investment opportunities and tourism initiatives backed by the government have earned the interest of international players to the market.
September 1, 2009
Greg Stielstra, North America's Top Faith-based Marketing Expert to Headline World Religious Travel Expo
headline speaker at this fall’s celebrated event. Stielstra is also best known as the author of Faith-based Marketing: The Guide to Reaching 140 Million Christian Customers (HarperCollins, 2005) and PyroMarketing: The Four Step Strategy to Ignite Customer Evangelists and Keep Them For Life (Wiley, 2009).
“We hit the jackpot in landing Greg Stielstra as the Sunday luncheon keynoter,” said WRTA President Kevin J. Wright. “The most frequently asked question by every travel provider and supplier in relation to the religious market is ‘How do we effectively reach pastors and the faith-based consumer?’ Greg will share the fascinating marketing principles behind the mega-success of The Passion of the Christ movie and The Purpose Driven Life book, and how these same
principles can and should be applied by each organization in the travel industry.”
Stielstra is an innovative thinker, speaker, consultant and author. An expert in word-of-mouth, faith-based, and social network marketing, he speaks regularly at Word of Mouth Marketing Association conference and numerous other events including AdTech New York and the prestigious Forbes CMO Summit. His work has been covered by The Economist, Advertising Age, Point Magazine, Business Week, Forbes, Wireless Age, Knowledge at Wharton, the
Wharton Leadership Journal, and the book 9 Minds on Marketing.
“People of faith are the largest, most loyal, and highest spending market segment in the United States with 140 million weekly church-goers who spend $5.1 trillion annually,” said Stielstra. “To be successful, you must first understand the religious consumer power niche—and how to effectively reach them. I will help the travel industry understand who makes up the faith community, what they want, and what it takes to appeal to them. We’ll also discuss common mistakes marketers make in dealing with the faith-based market; how to serve rather than sell to them; and what works and doesn’t work when dealing with pastors and other religious leaders. Above all, I’ll provide practical guidance for creating faith-based marketing plans that work.”
With one in four Americans expressing interest in taking a faith-based trip, and religious tourism expected to double by 2012, many travel providers and destinations have recently significantly expanded their faith-based marketing efforts including Trafalgar Tours, Globus family of brands, Collette Vacations, Faithful Holidays (division of Mayflower Tours), CIE Tours, Homeric Tours, TravelBound, Ed-Ventures Worldwide Tours, Carnival Cruise Lines, Costa Cruises, the Jordan Tourist Board, Switzerland Tourism, as well as many Convention and Visitor Bureaus and other suppliers including Passport Health. WRTA is currently taking registrations for the Word Religious Travel Expo & Educational Conference 2009, which will be held November 14-16, 2009, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada (USA). Serving as the most
important meeting and tradeshow in the religious travel and hospitality industry, the event is expected to draw tourism organizations, travel professionals, and group planners from 30-plus countries.
A new highlight for the Expo includes co-locating with the National Tour Association Convention ‘09, offering members of both associations unprecedented opportunities for business growth, networking and access to new market opportunities.
For more information about attending or exhibiting at the World Religious Travel Expo, contact the World Religious Travel Association at 888-255-WRTA (9782) or +1-859-219-3529 or by email headquarters@WRTAreligioustravel.com. For more information about WRTA and the Expo, visit www.WRTAreligioustravel.com and http://www.wrtaexpo.com/ respectively.