UNWTO to host seminar on pilgrimage and spiritual tourism in 2014
To raise awareness among the international community about the growing importance of pilgrimage and spiritual tourism in the light of tourism development is among the main objectives of the first International Congress on Pilgrimages and Tourism, to be held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, in September 2014. UNWTO will collaborate with local and national Spanish authorities as organizers for the event (Santiago de Compostela, 12 July 2013).
UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, Secretary of State for Tourism of Spain Isabel Borrego Cortés and Galician President Alberto Nuñez Feijoo have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to organize the Congress which will take place in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, epicenter of one of the most renowned pilgrimage routes in the world: The Route of Santiago. Policies and strategies for the preservation and management of heritage sites along religious routes will be discussed, highlighting the positive contribution of pilgrimages to sustainable growth and international peace.
“Alongside religious conviction, values of exchange are at the heart of the spiritual journey in any pilgrimage, the same values at the core of tourism,” said the UNWTO Secretary-General. “I have every confidence that this event will offer a unique opportunity for us to explore the dimensions of tourism and pilgrimages, and help us to see how tourism can foster spiritual and cultural respect and understanding among people, while creating opportunities to benefit populations worldwide,” he added.
Spiritual tourism comprises a significant portion of the tourism sector, with pilgrims and religious travelers making up a sizeable part of domestic and international tourism. UNWTO estimates that 300 to 330 million tourists visit the world´s key religious sites every year.