In the recent decades, people have been moving for leisure whereby faithful in a particular religion meet at a designated country or place for religious activities such as fellowship. Mecca in Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s popular religious tourism destinations for Muslims. They embark on pilgrimage annually, which is a tradition that is entrenched deeply in Islam. North America is also among the regions that have pronounced religious tourism.
Faith tourism is among the sectors that are experiencing rapid growth in the contemporary tourism industry. Most of the religious tourist destinations are associated with pre-historic sites of worship or areas legendary for supernatural occurrences. The main religions associated with religious tourism include Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism although there are many other minor religions that practice this form of religion. This paper evaluates whether religious tourism has increased because of the recent growth in new age spiritualism. It focuses on how religious tourism has evolved as well as whether pilgrimage has taken on a new meaning. It seeks to establish if people go to spiritual places because they are interested or because religion has seen a revival and people go for spiritual reasons. Pilgrimage dates back as far as the 16th century. The paper will address whether it is now done for different reasons or whether people still do it for the same reason as in the past.
The World Tourism Organization estimates that more than 300 million people travel to key religious sites annually (World Tourism Organization, 2002). Since the industrial revolution, technological advancements made travelling all over the world simpler. Religions spread world wide and by the end of the 19th century, there was a marked increase in religious tourism that has grown to the present day. Communication technology has made it possible for people to exchange views and plan for meetings globally. The U.S.