Cebu faith tourism to spike by 2021
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - June 8, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu tourism stakeholders expect Cebu’s faith tourism to fully take off and gain global attention as the province celebrates the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the globe on March 16, 2021.

Travel and tour specialists are now are preparing to curate attractive packages capitalizing on the 500th anniversary of the country’s first contact with Spaniards in 2021, said

Cebu Alliance of Tour Operations Specialists (CATOS) president Alice Queblatin.

Faith tourism is one of Cebu’s emerging strengths, and this will be given an international attention emphasizing Cebu as the cradle of Christianity in Asia.

It is the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines where Magellan planted a wooden cross upon his arrival to mark the arrival of the Roman Catholic faith in the country.

This and a lot of historical churches, religious pilgrimage sites like Simala Shrine, among others will be included in the loop of pilgrim tours in Cebu, Queblatin said.

Faith tourism is a growing niche market for Central Visayas and the Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 has pledged to capitalize on this rich religious tradition to entice more tourists.

Tour operators are now going through workshops on how to create interesting tour packages for faith tourism, she explained.

Faith tourism is a type of travel that aims to gain knowledge of and experience a religious or sacred site or object. It is the oldest form of tourism that often equates with religious pilgrimages and may also involve non-religious tourists.

It includes travel to attend a wedding, baptism, funeral and other religious rites.

Already, tour groups in Cebu have crafted tour proposals for this product, which covers a walking tour that retraces Cebu’s history in the last 500 years; Marian pilgrimages in northern and southern Cebu; the Bisikleta Tour; and the Sacred Treasures of Cebu Tour.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, an estimated 300 million to 330 million pilgrims visit the world’s key religious sites every year.

Religious travel is estimated at a value of US$18 billion every year.

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