Religious tourism, also commonly referred to as faith tourism, is a form of tourism, where people travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes. The world's largest form of mass religious tourism takes place at the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. North American religious tourists comprise an estimated $10 billion of the industry.
Modern religious tourists are more able to visit holy cities and holy sites around the world. The most famous holy cities are Jerusalem, Mecca and Varanasi. The most famous holy sites are the Church of the Nativity, The Western Wall, Brahma Temple at Pushkar and the Kaaba. Religious tourism has existed since antiquity. A study in 2011 found that pilgrims visited Jerusalem for a few reasons: to understand and appreciate their religion through a tangible experience, to feel secure about their religious beliefs, and to connect personally to the holy city.
Tourism segments 
Religious tourism comprises many facets of the travel industry including:
- Missionary travel
- Leisure (fellowship) vacations
- Faith-based cruising
- Crusades, conventions and rallies
- Monastery visits and guest-stays
- Faith-based camps
- Religious tourist attractions
Although no definitive study has been completed on worldwide religious tourism, some segments of the industry have been measured:
- According to the World Tourism Organization, an estimated 300 to 330 million pilgrims visit the world's key religious sites every year.
- According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Americans traveling overseas for "religious or pilgrimage" purposes has increased from 491,000 travelers in 2002 to 633,000 travelers in 2005 (30% increase).
- According to the Religious Conference Management Association, in 2006 more than 14.7 million people attended religious meetings (RCMA members), an increase of more than 10 million from 1994 with 4.4 million attendees. 
- The United Methodist Church experienced an increase of 455% in mission volunteers from 1992 with almost 20,000 volunteers compared to 110,000 volunteers in 2006.
- The Christian Camp and Conference Association states that more than eight million people are involved in CCCA member camps and conferences, including more than 120,000 churches. 
- Religious attractions including Sight & Sound Theatre attracts 800,000 visitors a year while the Holy Land Experience and Focus on the Family Welcome Center each receives about 250,000 guests annually. 
- 50,000 churches in the United States with religious travel programs
- One-quarter (25%) of travelers said they were currently interested in taking a spiritual vacation. 
Hindu religious tourism centres in India 
The major Hindu religious tourism centres in India are:-
- Maharshi Sadafaldeo Ashram, Jhunsi, Allahabad
- Dandak Van Ashram,Vansda,Gujarat
- Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
- Haridwar, Uttarakhand.
- Thirupathi temple, Andhra Pradesh.
- Akshar Dham, Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat.
- Amarnath Temple, Pahalgam, Jammu & Kashmir.
- Somnath Temple, Gujarat.
- Vaishnodevi Temple, Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir.
- Kailash Temple, Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
- Sun Temple, Konark, Orissa.
- Chidambaram Temple, Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu.
- Mahabalipuram Temple, Tamil Nadu.
- Rameswaram Temple, Tamil Nadu.
- Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
- Badarinath Temple, Uttarakhand.
- Naina Devi Temple, Bilaspur, Himachalpradesh.
- Sabarimala Temple, Pathanamthitta, Kerala.
- Guruvayoor Temple, Guruvayoor, Trichur, Kerala
- Kodungallor Temple, Trichur, Kerala
- Chettikulangara Temple, Mavelikkara, Kerala.
- Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Trivandrum, Kerala.
- Dakshineswar Kali temple Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal.
- Kalighat Kali Mandir, Kolkata, West Bengal.
- Hanseswari Temple, Bansberia, Hooghli, West Bengal.
- Puri Temple, Orissa
- Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam
Sikh religious tourism centres in India 
There are many beautiful Gurdwaras around the world. The Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, India - also known as the Golden Temple - is the most visited Gurdwara in the world. It is the most popular visited religious centre in India, more than the Taj Mahal.
See also 
Further reading 
- Razaq Raj and Nigel D. Morpeth, Religious tourism and pilgrimage festivals management : an international perspective, CABI, 2007
- Dallen J. Timothy and Daniel H. Olsen, Tourism, religion and spiritual journeys, Routledge, 2006
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Christianity|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Islam|
- Religious Travel Directory
- Faith Travel Expo
- Encyclopedia of Religion and Society – Religious Tourism
- South-East Asian Tourism Organisation A new South-east Asian based organisation looking at ways to use other initiatives to spread the benefits of tourism more widely.
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