Americans are increasingly meshing their vacations with their faith, reports Beliefnet, the religion web site.
While visits to shrines, retreat centers and other spiritual sites have been growing in recent years, more recently the travel industry — from religious tour books to Christian travel agents — is propelling the trend even further. Irving Hexham, the editor of Christian travelers’ guides to Great Britain, Italy, Germany and France, says that the number of Christians traveling abroad has grown from one million to 2.5 million in 20 years time.
Soluna Tours Sacred Journeys, which runs tours to both New Age and classical religious locations accompanied by scholars, organized three tours in 1995 and in 2001, it will send 30 tours. Christian camping has benefited strongly from the trend: In 1996, about 5.5 million people attended Christian camps and conference centers.
In 2000, nearly 7.5 million attended. The popular evangelical Mount Hermon family camps in California has seen its revenue jump from 1.5 million in 1996 to 1.9 million in 2000. Writer Gerald Zelizer ventures that these vacations’ combination of physical and spiritual enrichment appeals to materialistic Americans.