After two years of building expertise and enthusiasm for faith-based tourism, NTA is leading tour operators to the Holy Land on a 2013 product development trip. The members-only trip, February 10 through 22, features not only significant sites throughout Israel and Jordan, but also includes workshops and opportunities for participants to network with local suppliers.
“This is a key market for NTA tour operators, with billions of dollars of faith-based travel purchased annually by group leaders, religious leaders, and consumers,” said Lisa Simon, NTA President. “We are grateful to the tourism offices of Jordan and Israel for educating our tour operator members about the region’s travel-related products and for helping NTA create an unforgettable experience.”
The 13-day journey begins in Israel and takes participants to cities (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, and Nazareth), through the Judean Desert to a dip in the Dead Sea, and aboard a sailboat across the Sea of Galilee. From Israel, the group will enter Jordan and experience Amman’s museums and nightlife before exploring the ancient cities of Petra, Madaba, and Aqaba, along with Biblical sites that include Mount Nebo and Elijah’s Hill.
“After experiencing the rich cultures of Jordan and Israel, every participant will return home with not only the knowledge to sell these destinations, but also with a passion to sell them,” said Paul Larsen, Chair of NTA’s Faith Tourism Advisory Council and President of Ed-Ventures in Rochester, Minnesota. “These are unique, profitable, and growing markets that are not limited to just the faith-based niche.”
The Holy Land PDT is designed to provide tour operators firsthand experience of new products and services in the Holy Land along with opportunities to form partnerships with other tour operators and to interact with faith-based market leaders.
“About 40 percent of our operators are developing faith-based product, and the Holy Land is the most sought-after destination for the religious market, so it’s the perfect first hands-on product development opportunity in what we expect will become a series of faith-based trips,” said Simon, “At the same time, we’re adding tourism revenues and visitors to the Holy Land and providing new business for receptive operators and suppliers in the region.”
Over the past two years, NTA has taken a leadership role in the faith-based travel market. After spotlighting faith-based destinations and product at its 2010 convention, NTA formally launched its faith-based travel program the following year and hosted a first-ever, Faith-based Tourism Leaders Forum at its convention in Las Vegas. At Travel Exchange in January, NTA will conduct another forum on the event’s opening day, January 20, and will present a faith-based travel educational seminar on January 22.
The Holy Land PDT is part of Montage, NTA’s product development initiative that offers in-depth destination experiences. For more information on the trip, go to: www.ntaonline.com/for-members/meetings-and-events/montage2012/#holyland .