BOBBY JONES RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL
BARBADOS TOURISM AUTHORITY SPONSORS INAUGURAL RELIGIOUS CONCERT WITH DR. BOBBY JONES AND FRIENDS BARBADOS, (August 21, 2011)
A local pastor is appealing to the church community in this country to work together to help make Barbados the most preferred religious destination in the Caribbean. The call is coming from Senator Apostle David Durant. His comments came yesterday morning at the Hilton Hotel at the launch of the Barbados Tourism Authority’s event ‘Praise in Paradise with Bobby Jones and Friends’, which comes off next month.
Senator Durant, calling on his fellow pastors to get involved in the efforts to build such a market in Barbados, noted that it is estimated that religious tourism is a US$10 billion industry annual. Moreover, he said that according to the World Tourism Organization an estimated 330 million pilgrims visit religious sites annually and figures provided by the Religious Conference Management Association for 2006, revealed that more than 14.7 million people attend religious meetings.
That, he said, was an increase of more than 10 million from 1994. He added that in the past few years, faith tourism has entered a new era, driven not by pilgrimages as was the case in the past, but by missionary travel, religious cruises, concerts and the like, appealing to all demographics.
“We are encouraging religious tourism and hence the reason for this gathering today, because we believe that this is a niche market that we need to tap into,” he said. He continued, “The idea of a vacation combined with a religious activity is gathering momentum in recent years and has become a wonderful experience for faith-based or religious individuals.
“The vacation and religious activity combination is growing into a new unique niche market, it has become such a popular trend in recent times that a body was formed called World Religious Travel Association which will be hosting the world Religious Travel Expo this year October 29 – November 1 somewhere in Florida.”
He said that this is the first trade show and convention of its type to be held on a global scale for religious tourism and will bring together tour operators, cruise lines, representatives from destinations and other travel entities. He said that there is no doubt that religious tourism is becoming a very lucrative business and Barbados must get on board, so that we are not left behind.
“We have a beautiful paradise here, we have a beautiful island here, we have a fairly safe island here thank God, we have an island with great infrastructure, beautiful beaches, beautiful people and we ought to open our doors and really tap into this very important market,” he added. (JRT)