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What Is Christian Tourism?

Laura M. Sands
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Christian tourism is the term used to describe a particular segment of the tourism industry that caters to Christians desiring to visit historical sites relevant to that religion. The term also applies to tours established to assist Christian groups who wish to travel abroad to perform charitable works. While individual Christians do participate in Christian tourism, the term largely applies to tours organized for group members of churches, as well as other faith-based organizations. Among the more popular destinations in Christian tourism are Israel and Greece.

Some travel agencies specialize in offering Christian travel packages. As such, a travel agent may work with a religious group to organize a pilgrimage to one or more sites that the group deems holy. Such organizing typically includes things like air and ground transportation, room accommodations, shopping and recreational activities. While Christian tourism is primarily intended to offer educational and devotional components, a fair amount of leisurely activities are also included in most tours.

By participating in religious tourism, adherents are able to visit historical lands spoken of in holy texts. In many cases these types of tourism packages are not designed to be mere geographical visits, however. Groups are often accompanied by one or more tour guides who share significant historical knowledge about sites and who work to arrange cultural exchanges with other churches, as well as local people and groups currently living near a pilgrimage site.

Groups also engage in Christian tourism to offer assistance to people in need. Just as Christian pilgrimage groups travel to religious sites with historical significance, groups are often organized to help people living in countries that have been devastated by war, famine and other natural disasters. This type of Christian tourism is sometimes more of a spontaneous effort and often does not include the shopping or recreational components that other tours in this travel genre do.

Travelers often come to engage in Christian tourism through faith-based organizations, such as churches and Christian charity groups. While some countries are selected based upon their historical value, some tours are also organized on a regular basis for church members to form relationships with others in foreign lands. For example, it is not unusual for a church in one country to adopt an organization, such as a hospital, school or an orphanage, in another country and plan regular trips to that adopted organization in order to lend assistance and build lifelong relationships with members of the adopted organization.

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Laura M. Sands
By Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing to her work. With a background in social sciences and extensive online work experience, she crafts compelling copy and content across various platforms. Her ability to understand and connect with target audiences makes her a skilled contributor to any content creation team.
Discussion Comments
By titans62 — On Dec 22, 2011

@jcraig - I respect your opinion, but even when religion is concerned people are going to make a business out of it.

Think of how many travel agencies organize Christian trips to the Middle East in order for people to see these places. They make money off of this and it is in fact a business in its own.

Creating a tourist destination, such as a giant cross, appeals to people that are seeking to engage in seeing things that are associated and celebrate the Christian religion.

It is easy to say that only historically relevant places should only be considered spots Christian tourists go to, but some people cannot afford to go to these places, so they must go to the places like the giant crosses in order to celebrate their religion in the form of a vacation.

By jcraig — On Dec 21, 2011

@stl156 - I have to be honest, I do not consider places like a giant cross or a large statue of Jesus to be Christian tourist spots.

I have always thought of Christian tourist spots as being a place of historical religious importance and I see a giant cross that was created for the whole sense of marketing religious tourism to be sacrilegious and does not invoke the true sense of Christian tourism.

If anyone is looking to engage in Christian tourism they need to go to actual places of historical importance that have a history and are not a commercialized version of their religion that is only created to make money and attract people to the area.

By stl156 — On Dec 20, 2011

@cardsfan27 - You are absolutely correct. There are several types of tourist spots in America that have been created to bring Christians together, despite not being historically important places.

I live in Illinois and down the road from me is a giant several hundred foot tall cross by Interstate 70 that was created for the sole purpose of promoting Christian tourism in the area.

Place like this exist all across the United States and they are quite prevalent in what can be considered the "Bible Belt." If anyone is interested in taking a Christian oriented vacation and seeing some of these sites as well as seeing the country, then they might want to look in this area when planning a vacation.

By cardsfan27 — On Dec 20, 2011

There are several Christian tourist sites in American and you do not necessarily have to go to Jerusalem or the Holy Land.

There are several places across the United States that invoke the word of God as well as provide a stopping ground for tourists.

There are usually things created just for this purpose just like a giant cross that can be seen for miles or even an elaborate statue of Jesus that was created to bring traveling Christians together.

By widget2010 — On Dec 19, 2011

I know people who went on church group trips to religious sites, mainly Jerusalem and other cities in Israel, although also sometimes places in Egypt. The one complaint some of my friends had was that the trips felt too much like mainstream tourist trips, with guided walks and bus rides and things like that. I suppose that is something you might want to watch out for if you prefer a more independent learning experience.

By DentalFloss — On Dec 18, 2011

@hyrax53- My school had some great religion classes, but I don't know if any offered trips like that. I do know people who went abroad during college to see places like Jerusalem and Rome, but it was usually part of a longer abroad trip where they went to those places by themselves. I bet going with a really well-educated religion professor or other scholar would be really different from poking around on your own.

By hyrax53 — On Dec 18, 2011

I went to a college that offered many abroad programs. One that I wish I had gone on was a one-month trip that split time between Wittenberg, Germany and Rome. It was about comparing Martin Luther and the apostle Paul, and they went to many historic sites and learned about them.

I don't think I would call what they did "tourism" exactly, because it was academic study, but for at least some students it was as much about the religious meaning for them as learning the subject matter, and if I ever got the chance, those places would be on the list of religious places I would want to go to as well.

Laura M. Sands
Laura M. Sands
Laura Sands, the founder of a publishing company, brings her passion for writing and her expertise in digital publishing...
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