New opportunities for many Countries
In the first post on religious tourism we focused on the size of the demand, in the second we analyzed the intermediaries of this market, this brief analysis will be concluded with some observations on the pilgrim destinations.
In order to maintain the brevity of the discussion, we can observe that:
- The holy places, by definition, of Christianity (the Holy Land and Rome) are the “obvious” destinations of Polish pilgrims.
- The places of the apostles, of the great saints or of famous apparitions (Lourdes, Assisi, Santiago de Compostela, Medjugorje, more recent but in great growth), attract more specific targets within the Christian, and Polish, people, but they remain in Europe or in the Mediterranean basin.
- But, if we follow the papal journeys, or the paths of great missionaries or we want to discover the traditions of the Catholic populations scattered around the globe, then the range of action of pilgrimages is extended to the whole world. This seems an unstoppable trend of Polish travelers of the faith.
(Note) If you want to know more about the relationship between the pilgrimage destinations and its motivations, or simply know which are the reasons of certain pilgrimage destinations at first glance incomprehensible, make an effort and read this page www.ave.turystyka.pl /page_menu_pielgrzymki.html. It clearly explains the different motivations of the pilgrimages and of related destinations. The text is in Polish, unfortunately I did not find an equivalent page in English. With the help of Google Translator, or some similar tools, its contents emerge clearly.
Given these premises clearly there are no limits to the destinations of pilgrimages. We have collected in the table below the countries proposed as pilgrimage destinations in the catalogs (not on request) of the Polish TO specialists of this market.
The American continent is strongly represented, especially Latin America. Asia, including the Far East, is also very present with China, Korea and Japan. On the contrary, the presence of Africa is weak with just three countries. One of them, Ethiopia, should be almost mandatory to visit because it has a very ancient Christian tradition.
We haven’t unfortunately information about the number of visitors for the different destinations, but if we consider the presence of the Countries above mentioned in the TO catalogs as a proxy of their request by the pilgrims, in this case it’s interesting consider the chart below.
Mexico, with Our Lady of Guadalupe, is the absolute favorite destination of Polish pilgrims: almost 40% of the TOs include this destination in their catalogs.
Georgia and Armenia, countries with an ancient Christian tradition, often joined as travel destinations, follow but with a big distance followed in turn by other Latin America countries, among them unexpected there is Japan. It should however be stressed that these last destinations are proposed by less than 15% of the catalogs analyzed.
After these Countries the destinations fall below the double-digit.
The prices of these trips are all rather significant. The graph below is very clear on this regard. For example, Mexico, the most popular destination outside of Europe, is offered at an average price of over 2000 euros, the USA at an almost double price.
(Note) We have collected and analyzed this data from the catalogs of specialized TOs, having as reference the highest figure indicated and the minimum duration of the trip. We were interested in pointing out the costs faced by the pilgrim who intends to move on intercontinental routes. The prices shown in the graph are the simple averages of the prices per pax found on the catalogs.
What conclusions to draw from the three posts dedicated to Polish religious tourism:
- Compared to the overall size of the Polish tourism market, it is a segment with limited dimensions: about one million of trips per year but with significant margins of growth, even in the short term, for European and non-European destinations.
- Approximately 70 TOs work in Poland on this market. They are distributed on the territory in proportion to the population because they maintain a very close connection with the promoters of these trips.
- The rather widespread opinion that Pilgrimage is a poor market is a prejudice. Some of these travelers have certainly limited budgets, but the bulk has good and growing spending power, as is growing the Polish economy.
- Religious tourism is no longer limited to visiting the traditional destinations of the Christian faith but extends its itineraries to new countries outside Europe and the Mediterranean basin. This implies greater spending budget for travelers.
- In this market there are now also opportunities for non-European destinations that have had little to do with the Polish pilgrims so far.
Author: Gilberto Zangari
Feel free to report the previous post but please quotes: OUTgoing POLAND, The Polish Outgoing Tourist Workshop