According to a recent industry analysis by Future Market Insights, sales in the US faith-based Tourism Market are set to exhibit a 9.2% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) by 2032. Additionally, the market is set to reach a valuation of US $ 1,001 Mn in 2022.
The growth is due to the increasing demand for authentic spiritual experiences among certain demographics of travelers both from within and outside of the US. “High demand for more authentic experiences among tourists such as immersing themselves in spiritual and cultural traditions associated with a religion or pilgrimage site would drive the faith-based tourism market in the US,” an FMI analyst said.
The fact that many international tourists can visit the US for up to 90 days visa-free is only likely to boost the market further. However, certain nationalities do need types of visas to visit the US no matter the duration of the stay.
Religious tourism is of course nothing new. The devout have long undertaken religious pilgrimages to sites of spiritual importance such as shrines and the birthplaces of saints or deities.
Famous International examples of religious trips include the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, the Buddhist pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya, and traveling to Jerusalem or Vatican City as a Cristian.
However, over time the concept of the pilgrimage has evolved into spiritual tourism, in which visiting religious believers are treated as tourists and are looking for ways to market their visit as a vacation as well as a religious experience.
This is good news for travel operators as religious tourists are more likely to spend more than the average holidaymaker because they have a strong motivation to travel. Religious tourism is beneficial in other ways, as it builds cultural understanding and also can contribute to local development.
There is now a strong likelihood that faith-based tourism will expand the travel industry in the United States. A variety of pilgrimage sites have already been established in the country by the Roman Catholic Church, including sacred relics of martyrs, healing stories, miracles, and Marian apparitions.
But the Vatican is not the only religious organization who have marked key sites for religious tourism, and there are now many established pilgrimage sites for other belief systems, including the Buddhist and Jewish faiths.
Some of the most popular destinations for religious tourism across the US currently include:
- Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens in Gatlinburg, Tennessee
- Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California
- El Santuario de Chimayó, a 200-year-old Roman Catholic church near Santa Fe, Mexico
- Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
- Patrick’s Cathedral, New York
- Temple Square, the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake City, Utah
- The Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky
- The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Cleveland, Ohio
- The Pope John Paul Cultural Center in Washington, D.C
- The Shambhala Mountain Center Buddhist retreat in Colorado
- Trinity Church, Lower Manhattan, New York
The primary market for religious tourism in the US is currently domestic travelers in the 46-55 age group. This is expected to remain consistent through 2032. The largest share of the US faith-based tourism industry is expected to be generated through package tours, and up to 45% of trips are expected to be booked online.
The US faith-based tourism market is not the only one predicted to experience significant growth by 2032. For example, a 14.0% CAGR is expected from the South Asia religious tourism market due to increasing spiritual tourism activities in India. And a 12.0% CAGR is also predicted for the rapidly expanding European faith-based tourism market.