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Friday, February 02, 2007
World Religious Travel Association: Religious travel industry forms global association
In an attempt to advise, build and connect the $18-billion worldwide religious travel industry, two widely acclaimed, faith-based travel industry authorities have launched the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA).

The website of WRTA is www.religioustravelassociation.com

Kevin J Wright, president of the Religious Market Consulting Group, and Honnie Korngold, president of the Christian Travel Finder, set up the organisation in response to the growing demand for faith-based vacations and the increasing number of tourism companies entering or expanding their presence within the travel industry.

According to Kevin J Wright, executive director of WRTA, "The new organisation's overall mission is to 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."

The faith-based travel industry is booming worldwide and is one of the fastest-growing travel segments, according to the World Tourism Organisation (WTO).

The Travel Industry Association of America's findings, released in November 2006, says: "One-quarter of travellers said they were currently interested in taking a spiritual vacation (like religious retreat, pilgrimage), and that the appeal of a spiritual vacation spans the ages, with approximately one-third of each age group (18-34 years, 35-54 years, and 55+) expressing current interest in taking such a vacation."

In October 2006, the International Conference on Religious Tourism (ICORET), held in Cyprus, estimated the size of the faith-based travel industry at $18 billion.

The London-based World Travel Market has identified faith-based travel as one of the top critical issues and trends in travel and tourism in the 21st century.

The World Religious Travel Association will initially focus on the North American religious market and consumer, and then expand throughout the world as emerging markets mature and consumer demand increases.

The three major goals of the WRTA are: Advise and assist the worldwide travel industry in marketing, sell and develop product for the North American religious market and consumer; build faith-based vacation and travel ministry opportunities for North American religious consumers; and connect the worldwide travel industry and the North American religious consumer (via various channels, venues and networking opportunities).

All seven segments of the $18-billion global religious tourism industry are represented in the association. They are: (1) Tour operators, cruise lines, and travel wholesalers (2) travel suppliers and vendors (3) travel agencies and consortiums (4) religious suppliers and vendors (5) churches and religious / non-profit organisations (6) individuals and clergy (7) media.

The new association will provide its members with market services and opportunities such as leadership, networking, education, media (publicity), research, job market, advertising, consulting, travel ministry programmes, and faith-based vacations.

Besides, the WRTA will promote every aspect of religious travel including escorted touring, cruising, missionary travel, adventure trips, FIT/independent travel, attractions, retreats, conferences, and conventions/meetings. Memberships for the association include both trade and consumer, and feature a variety of options.

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