Religious tourism during 2014 – A record typically held by the Italians

ITALY (eTN) - Half a million pilgrims in St.

Religious tourism during 2014 – A record typically held by the Italians

ITALY (eTN) – Half a million pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square; some 300,000 in the streets adjacent to the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII – these are some of the details released by the Vatican City press, indicating that the measure of a mass phenomenon is resistant to any recession and that the charisma of Pope Francis is leading to an unprecedented and highly-significant number of incoming visitors to Italy. Arrivals from emerging economies in South America have strongly increased, whose Catholic communities share the same culture with the Argentine Pope Francesco of Italian origin.

On this occasion, Coldiretti, the Association of Italian Agriculture, divulged its updated analysis of religious tourism, which increasingly involves the farm business, one of the few available on the Italian market. The volume of business generated by religious tourism in Italy in 2014 is pushing the record at US$5 billion (out of a total value of US$18 billion in the world) that at the current exchange rate means about 3.6 billion euro.

Coldiretti notes that more than 4 % of travelers around Italy in occasion of the springtime festivities was due to religious motives, and the destinations were specifically to Rome, Assisi, Padua, and to the shrines of Pompeii, Loreto, Oropa, San Giovanni Rotondo, St. Rita da Cascia, while even the lure of Medjugorje continues to grow, along with Lourdes and Jerusalem.

6 out of 10 from abroad

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ISNART – the Italian Institute for research on Tourism Flow – estimated that 60% of religious tourism arrivals in Italy is from abroad and counted more than 45% from European countries and almost 15% from non-European basins. Coldiretti confirms that the journey of faith is now more than ever experienced by young people, with more than 44% of the pilgrims in the age range between 30 and 50.

Overall market share in the brokered segment reached nearly 45% of sales, with 20% of the pilgrims specifically choosing an organized package tour. The faith travelers also choose to travel more frequently during the low season, due to budget, although there is also an increasing interest in good food, and they will choose the combination of formulas in green and sustainable tourism. Places less known and consumed by the great currents of religious tourism are also proving to be extremely attractive to this group of travelers.

On the Way – “the pilgrim’s scrip”

There has been a large rise in the formulas of the oldest religious journey, the first to walk towards the goals of the millennial cult on the routes of the pilgrimage. First is the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena in Italy – 1,000 kilometers from Aosta to Rome – along which the farms associated to Coldiretti, gathered in Campagna Amica, prepare the “pilgrim’s bag” containing typical specialties found at every leg of the journey.

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