Malta hosts international conference on Faith-Based Tourism

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Malta hosts international conference on Faith-Based TourismAn international conference has been held in Malta, looking at Faith-Based Tourism.

It was co-convened by the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), the University of Malta, the Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland) and the Leeds Beckett University (UK).

The conference provided a platform for the creation of a niche market of Faith-Based Tourism – an umbrella term for, among others, religious tourism, pilgrimage, secular pilgrimage and cultural tourism with interest in religion and dark tourism.

Dr Dane Munro provided the initiative for the conference, after researching and studying faith-based tourism at the Institute for Tourism, Travel and Culture (ITTC), within the University of Malta.

The MTA said that it also coincided with a renewed effort, spearheaded by its Deputy CEO, Mr Leslie Vella, to develop this niche market and bring it to a more prominent position in the Maltese tourism product.

“The faith-based tourism market is experiencing substantial growth worldwide and pilgrimage centres of different religions have been reporting increasing interest,” the MTA said. “In the last decade or so, visitor numbers connected to faith-based tourism have increased rapidly, contributing to a growing economic sector.”

It added that while tourism is a vital pillar of the Maltese economy, with a well-developed infrastructure, “work is still going on in order to foster faith-based tourism by enhancing related product s and services so that the islands can start to attract their fair share of pilgrimage tourists.”

The MTA said that Maltese religious, cultural and tourism authorities are collaborating in order to embark on a common campaign. “The conference provided a great opportunity for all stakeholders to discover the opportunities that exist in this niche market.”

There are more than 590 places of worship in Malta, but very few are open all day for visitors in a structured way, said the MTA.

It added that, Malta already welcomes a number of pilgrims and religious tourists, “but this is mainly done through an uncoordinated effort, and Malta’s assets can certainly be utilised further.”

The MTA remarked that, “faith-based tourism is quite resistant to financial and economic turbulence and in the present, volatile world, a new and stable branch of tourism is more than welcome.”

“All this wealth, access and progress can entice more interest for faith-based tourism or pilgrimages beyond the Maltese archipelago,” it said.

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