November 7, 2007

November Newsletter

WRTA November Newsletter

World Religious Travel Expo - 79 Booths Left
Early Bird Special Rates end this month on November 30

On Oct 8, WRTA launched registrations for the World Religious Travel Expo & Educational Conference. Within three weeks, 21 booths out of 100 available booths have been sold - leaving 79 left. Current exhibitors include Globus Family of brands, Trafalgar Tours, Collette Vacations, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Jordan Tourist Board, Bahamas Tourist Office, Switzerland Tourism, World Mission Tours, Pennsylvania Dutch Country (Lancaster County), Biltmore Estate, WordSpring Discovery Center, Church Executive, Leisure Group Travel, and Going on Faith among others. To register for the Expo as either an exhibitor or attendee, or to learn more about the event, visit
Remember.....less than 30 days left for Early Bird Registration Rates!

Jordan Travel Mart - For Suppliers & Buyers
Strengthen your portfolio and INCREASE YOUR SHARE of
Holy Land travel to Jordan.

(McLean, VA and Jacksonville, FL) The Jordan Tourism Board North America (JTBNA), a WRTA charter member, has announced that its 1st Annual Jordan Travel Mart (JTM) will be held on February 10-12, 2008 at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center at the Dead Sea. The format of JTM will include two days of pre-scheduled appointments between USA, Canada, and Latin/South America "Buyers" and Jordan "Suppliers," presentations on various tourism products, and a great selection of exciting pre and post tours throughout the entire country.

Jordan is a distinctive destination offering breathtaking and mysterious sights, luxury accommodations, exquisite cuisine and countless activities that can provide visitors with inspiration, motivation, rejuvenation, and a guaranteed experience of a lifetime. Jordan attracts many niche markets - luxury; eco-adventure; educational/cultural; medical/spa; cruising; and, of course, religious travel.
Faith tourism from North America to Jordan has increased dramatically since 2000, when JTBNA initiated a long-term marketing and public relations strategy to educate and attract the North American religious market. Years in the making, the Jordan Travel Mart will serve as a catalyst for suppliers and buyers seeking to strengthen their portfolios and increase their share of Holy Land travel to Jordan.
In making the Jordan Travel Mart announcement, Malia Asfour, Jordan Tourism Board North America Director, said: "This is a tremendous opportunity for travel professionals to learn and become experts on all the wonders Jordan has to offer and truly experience the diversity of this unique destination. We have witnessed a significant increase in interest from the North/South American travelers and have been working closely with the trade to capitalize on this trend. I am sure that Petra winning the title as one of the New 7 Wonders, will also dramatically increase consumers awareness and tourism arrivals to Jordan."
Irma Coleman, President & CEO of William H. Coleman, Inc., the Jordan Travel Mart Event Management Firm, said: "We are very excited about being a part of the Jordan Tourism Board's Team, and for the opportunity to help make this Event a vital part of Jordan's Tourism development activities in 2008, and years to come."
For additional information on JTM, registration forms, pre-post tour itineraries, and discount airfares please visit the official JTM website:

Globus Releases First-Ever Study of
International Religious Travelers

One of the world's leading escorted travel companies, Globus, unveiled today the findings of the first-ever study about the U.S. market for international religious vacations (conducted by Menlo Consulting Group).

Among the top statistics include:
• Total market of past and potential religious travelers in the U.S. numbers approximately 16.6 million people.
• One-third of all international travelers (or 15.7 million U.S. adults) are likely to take a religious vacation in the future
• One in 10 international pleasure travelers have already been abroad on a faith-based vacation (or approximately 4.5 million people).
• 42% of potential religious travelers want a 50/50 mix of religious and non-religious activities planned for the itinerary.
• More than 40 percent of all American international pleasure travelers (or 20.1 million people) have at least some desire to get in touch with their religious heritage when they travel.
• 80% of past religious travelers plan to repeat the experience in the future
• Three-quarters of potential religious travelers would opt for an escorted group tour versus independent or other travel.
The study also states that the "results of this survey fall closely in line with the phenomenon Globus has experienced since introducing a religious travel division ( in 2004. In 2007, year-to-date bookings have increased almost 75% over 2006 figures."

New WRTA Social Network is in Full Swing....
Add your profile TODAY!

The new social network for the World Religious Travel Association debuted on October 1. One month later the global community hit the 125 mark complete with tour operators, travel agencies, suppliers, group planners, and individuals.

If you or your organization has not yet added your profile to the network - it's simple and quick. Visit and fill out the one page form. In addition to posting your information, you can also add photos, videos, and even a blog. It's your arena for networking and communicating with others globally.

WRTA Social Network:

WRTA Members get FREE subscriptions to Going on Faith
Free subscriptions to Going on Faith will be offered to travel agents, tourism workers, ministers, and religious group travel leaders who are members of the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA). As part of a new partnership between Going on Faith and WRTA, all of the association's members in the United States can receive free subscriptions to the newspaper. Going on Faith is also offering discounted advertising rates to WRTA member companies.

For more information about Going on Faith visit And to learn more about Going on Faith's annual conference visit

WRTA Partners with Leisure Group Travel Magazine on
Special Religious Travel Articles

Leisure Group Travel Magazine (circulation 20,000 group travel organizers) is making a major commitment to the religious travel marketplace. This November, the magazine commissioned WRTA to write a ground-breaking article on all facets of the religious travel marketplace for their annual Industry Forecast issue.

For 2008, Leisure Group Travel is covering the Religious Travel Market in two editions - February features a report from the Globus Religious Travel Symposium and an update from WRTA, and August will include extensive pre-conference coverage of our inaugural convention with bonus distribution at the show.

In addition to 3,000 religious groups that subscribe, Leisure Group Travel also reaches tour operators, travel agents and other group planners. To obtain your COMPLIMENTARY subscription to the magazine, visit WRTA members are also eligible to receive special discounted rates. Request your media planner at Mention you are a WRTA member.

WRTA members receive a 10% discount for advertising in this feature. Contact Leisure Group at 630-794-0696 for more information promoting your brand in this Religious Travel feature.

Christian tours to Ethiopia
Hosted by Group IST
Ethiopia is beginning to attract attention as a popular Christian travel destination. Considered one of the oldest Christian countries, Ethiopia is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a number of ancient Christian churches and monasteries. Today Britons, Americans, and Chinese represent the largest number of Christian pilgrims and visitors. As tourism currently represents just 2.5 percent of the country's gross national product, the Minister of Culture and Tourism Mahmoud Dirir himself recently stated, "What we're witnessing is a revitalization of the tourism sector in Ethiopia."
Ethiopia seeks to increase its annual 250,000 foreign visitors and travelers to one million by 2010. Religious tourism is figuring heavily into reaching this lofty goal, especially as faith plays a prominent role in the life of many Ethiopians. Among the most visited Christian sites include the World Heritage Site and "8th Wonder of the World" of Lalibela's eleven stone -hewn churches, built in the twelfth and thirteen centuries. Another top highlight is St. Mary of Zion Church, considered the original resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ethiopian monasteries also serve as a top attraction including Debre Libanos Monastery, Debre Estifanos Monestary, and Qusquam Monastery among others. With the current rising trend and interest in Christian Ethiopian pilgrimages, it will not be long before many travel companies offer this destination and tour.

WRTA Member Group IST is one of the few international tour operators offering Christian tours to Ethiopia. To learn more about Group IST's Christian Ethiopian tours visit - or visit any of the organization's brands websites including
Journeys Unlimited
Regina Tours
Small Ship Cruising

World famous Fatima shrine in Portugal unveils
new 9,000 seat church
More than a quarter of a million pilgrims recently celebrated the unveiling of a new mega-church at Fatima shrine in Portugal. The event took place on October 13, the 90th anniversary of the Virgin Mary appearing to three shepherd children. The new Church of the Holy Trinity is considered one of the world's largest churches with a seating capacity of 9,000 - making it almost three times the size of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, which seats approximately 2,500.
All told, more than five million people visit the shrine each year, making it one of the most celebrated Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the world. Pope John Paul II himself credited Our Lady of Fatima as protecting him from the assassination attempt on his life in 1981. The bullet that lodged in the late pontiff today lies in the crown of the Virgin Mary statue at Fatima. With the new church featuring thirteen bronze entrances and nearly 50 confessional booths and a café for worshippers, Fatima is poised to remain one of the most visited shrines in the world for Catholic travelers and groups.

Missionaries must protect their travel health
(and all travelers too!)
There were nearly 300,000,000 faith-based travelers worldwide in 2005. The numbers are staggering and continue to grow. Travel Medicine is its very own field of practice and study and the importance of being properly prepared medically before leaving your home country is vital to completion of your mission. It is nearly impossible for your personal doctor to keep abreast of developments in this dynamic field. Therefore, they usually will refer you to a travel medicine expert or travel clinic. The travel expert will make some recommendations based upon, among others, the following criteria:

 Your immunization history
 Your destination
 Length of stay and accommodations
 Age and medical history

Religious travel sends millions of people to some of the most remote and under-developed areas on the globe. Indeed, there is a huge difference between sojourning to Germany and going into the Zambian bush country. This is the first article in a series of short, educational travel health additions to the monthly newsletter. You will be informed, one-by-one, of the most dangerous diseases to which you, as a missionary, may be exposed and informed about how to avoid them.

Who to contact/recommend for travel health providers?
North American travel companies and group planners can contact/recommend Passport Health at

For international travel companies and group planners, contact a reputable travel health provider in your country and develop a close partnership. For more information also visit or

What is Air Ambulance Card?
Air Ambulance Card® is a membership program that provides air ambulance services to its members, anywhere in the world, anytime. Air Ambulance Card is like an auto club but instead of sending a wrecker to tow your car, we send a dedicated medical airplane to move you from one hospital to another.

Millions of people travel domestically and internationally every year. Their greatest fear while traveling is a medical emergency. If they are hospitalized overseas, getting home to U.S. healthcare is a major concern. Unfortunately, most travelers are unprepared for the high cost and complex coordination required for an air ambulance transport.

Air Ambulance Card membership provides worldwide air ambulance transportation, medical evacuation and repatriation services to transfer members back to the hospital of their choice. Air Ambulance Card is not insurance. Our membership program is not limited by complex language, restrictions and conditions included in standard travel insurance policies.

For more information visit

The Religious Market Guide 2008
Become a recognized expert or organization - submit an article for publication

The World Religious Travel Association is currently developing the definitive business resource on religious tourism. The e-publication entitled The Religious Market Guide 2008 is expected to be several hundred pages in length and scheduled for distribution next Spring to all paid WRTA organization members.

As WRTA is currently collecting articles from organizations and professionals involved in the faith tourism industry, this is your opportunity to contribute, get recognized and published. All contributers will be credited accordingly, providing excellent publicity.

If you would like to contribute an article for the publication (regarding any topic pertinenent to religious travelers and companies specializing in this market), send an email along with your proposed topic to WRTA President Kevin J. Wright.

Among the various topics and articles that WRTA is seeking include:
* Destination knowledge (product knowledge)
* Sales/marketing stategies (to the Religious Market)
* Group travel planner tips/hints/"How to guide"
* Travel insurance
* Travel health
* Any topic that you or your organization is a specialist.

Biltmore Estate
A great destination or getaway for faith groups

Discover America's Largest Home, Biltmore House, surrounded by inspiring gardens, America's most-visited winery, and the interpretive River Bend Farm. Play in our 8,000-acre backyard with an array of outdoor activities, indulge in one-of-a-kind shopping, and savor our restaurants' exceptional fare. Visit Biltmore in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC and let our gracious hospitality inspire you.Need more details to plan your trip? Check out Biltmore Visit Planner online.
See Vibrant Fall Colors: Our estate is filled with color, from bright gold Hickory leaves to 8,000 mums in full bloom. See the latest fall color report.

For more information about the Biltmore Estate, click here.

Lancaster County
The Heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country

Look no further than Lancaster County when seeking the perfect destination for your faith group. There is a wide variety of things to see, do and experience in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Maybe that's why national tour companies have recognized Lancaster County as a destination with the "the best value for money spent." A whole host of attractions in PA Dutch Country appeal to groups, from working Amish homesteads and museums to interactive tours and historical sites.
What's more, our hospitality is simply second-to-none. Whether you're experienced with group tours just learning about this type of travel, our experienced team of destination specialists will help plan your trip and make every member of your group feel welcome.So go ahead...check out the group friendly properties and motorcoach services. Learn more about familiarization tours and new U-Pick Tours. Download sample itineries and request more info. It's all here to help you get started!
For more information visit

WRTA Member News
* Congratulations to our Australian-based member Mission Travel Service who made their 3,000th booking! Visit .

* Switzerland Tourism debuted its new and breathtaking video "Angel's Flight"; to view the spectacular video click here.

* Ad Deus Adventures unveiled its new logo; to view it click here and then look for the travel agency's entry.

Submit your company news and announcements to WRTA
Remember that you can submit your organization news, events and announcements to WRTA at any time. WRTA will in turn distribute your news information via its monthly newsletter, to media members, and/or post on the association website.

Forward this newsletter to friends, family, pastor, & church members

Members and non-members alike can receive this newsletter for free. Just send us your email address or anyone who is interested in receiving a complimentary copy of Religious Travel Buzz.

You can also forward this email newsletter to your friends, family, pastor, church members, travel planners, and anyone who may be interested.

Pre-order your copy of The Christian Travel Planner
Discussing a multitude of trips, from Holy Land and European pilgrimage tours to mission trips and conference cruises, this book is accessible and user-friendly. Other vacations include fellowship vacations, camps, conventions, adventure vacations, and monastic guest-stays. Complete with stories, must-see descriptions, and website and travel reference information, this planner can also be used as a companion guide while traveling or simply from the comfort of your home, as you explore Christianity's famous sites via the computer. Learn how to begin or enrich a Christian travel ministry at your church, faith community, or organization. The Christian Travel Planner introduces readers to the world of faith-based travel and identifies the plethora of opportunities available to Christians and others of faith planning a vacation.
The book will be released on February 5, 2008. To order the first copies available from Thomas Nelson, you can pre-order by clicking here.

Special Note: For travel companies, organizations, and churches that would like to "brand" this guidebook with your company/organization featured on the cover of the guidebook (for your clientele or members), this opportunity will be available. More details to follow in the December newsletter.