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If you’re wondering which client from your database might be interested in booking faith-based trips, we have some guidelines and suggestions for you from industry execs.  

Melissa da Silva, president of Trafalgar, says these itineraries are ideal for “travelers that want more out of their trips on a spiritual level. Many with religious beliefs that may want to reaffirm their faith and journey through sacred lands, as well as travelers who have a deep interest in history, as these trips are rooted in visiting historic and culturally sacred sites.”

Guests on faith-based trips are looking for more than just sightseeing. “Many of our travelers,” adds Da Silva, “are looking to reaffirm their faith and discover the lands where their religion was established, follow the footsteps of their religion and bring themselves closer to God. These travelers are seeking to enrich their mind, body and soul through travel that brings deep personal meaning to their lives.”     

According to Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager for Globus family of brands, these are also great opportunities to book group trips. “We find these vacations are perfect for clients who have an interest in renewing their faith or who want to plan a group with their church to share the experience with fellow parishioners. In addition, many travelers simply enjoy the experience that these vacations offer, often tracing the footsteps of spiritual leaders and visiting historically significant destinations where events from scripture occurred,” says Parrish.

Adds Tommy Ryder, head of sales for TravelBound, “When we talk to our travel agents, many are seeing travelers who are looking to learn more about history or connect with their roots booking faith-based trips. Many travel with their family for an intimate, multi-generational tour. We are even seeing travelers who aren’t primarily going for religious reasons book tours that include a historical overview of famous religious monuments.”

The Trip of the Decade
One popular experience that will return in 2020 is the Oberammergau’s Passion Play, and Globus family of brands is offering premier, reserved seating and accommodations in the heart of Oberammergau on three distinct travel styles and 14 itineraries starting from $2,049.

“An opportunity that arises once every 10 years, is an opportunity not to be missed,” said Scott Nisbet, president and CEO of the Globus family of brands, in press material. 

The Passion Play has been a theatrical tradition in Oberammergau, Germany since 1634, and performed only once a decade in this Bavarian village. This reenactment of the crucifixion of Christ can be experienced while on a Globus vacation, a Cosmos getaway, or an Avalon Waterways river cruise with itineraries that include accommodations at the Romantik Hotel.

These trips are filling up quickly. Parrish says, “Book now! To get the best dates and itineraries, agents need to take action now, as vacations are filling up and selling fast and tickets will most likely sell out. Also, if they have not considered organizing a group, this is the perfect once-in-a-decade experience for a family, church or special interest group. 

“We offer tours to Oberammergau throughout the year, not just for the play so we are an expert in this destination,” adds Parrish. “For the 2020 event, we offer first-class category seating for the Passion Play, a centrally located hotel in the heart of Oberammergau and an office within the town for the duration of the play to help guests make the most of their visit.”

A sampling of the 14 itineraries available through Globus family of brands include the 7-day Shrines of Alpine Europe with Cosmos starting at $2,049; the 9-day Bavarian Highlights with Oberammergau starting at $3,249 with Globus; the 9-day Catholic Central Europe starting at $3,799 with Globus Faith; and the 12-day Danube Dreams with Oberammergau starting at $5,365 with Avalon Waterways. 

faith-based travel
Oberammergau’s Passion Play takes place in 2020. (Photo courtesy of Globus Family of brands.)

Popular Destinations
According to Da Silva, one of the most popular sites for faith-based travelers is the parish of Fatima.

Trafalgar’s 9-day Wonders of Portugal itinerary visits the religious landmarks of Fatima, Batalha, and the Hieronymite Monastery, while also traveling through the medieval cities of Obidos, Evora, and Guimaraes. Rates start at $1,475.38 pp from October 2018 to March 2019. 

Israel also tops the list of faith-based destinations, and Trafalgar’s 9-day Best of Israel itinerary visits Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall, the Dead Sea, Nazareth, and Tel Aviv. Guests will get to float in the Dead Sea, pray at the Wailing Wall, and get to explore the modern side of Israel in Tel Aviv. Rates start at $2,350 pp. 

Ryder, meanwhile, points to Italy and Spain as the top booked destinations in Europe for faith-based trips. He adds that, “We are also seeing an increase in travel
to Asia amongst faith-based travelers who would like to connect with Buddhism and Hinduism.”

And agents, if you’re booking your clients on these faith-based tours, Ryder suggests “combining multiple destinations with extensive religious history to ensure their clients can get the best experience for great value. For instance, travelers going to France seeking faith-based tours will most likely end up in Lourdes, which can be combined with Fatima (Portugal) and Santiago de Compostela (Spain). This is an example of a common itinerary for faith-based travelers.”

TravelBound suggests a City Wonders tour, one of their suppliers, as a good option that can be booked on their site. For example, the City Wonders: Crypts Catacombs, and the Dark Heart of Rome takes guests into the unusual history of Rome exploring some of the most uncommon sites the city has to offer, including the Capuchin Bone Chapel, and the ancient tunnels of the Catacombs of Rome. When booking with TravelBound, your guests will get skip-the-line entrances to the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and tours for a papal blessing on Sundays.

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