Religious tourism, a catalyst for cultural understanding

PR No.: PR 16090

Under the title ‘Religious Heritage and Tourism,’ Utrech in the Netherlands hosted a 2-day UNWTO Conference on 5-7 October to underline the potential of this segment to promote the growth of the sector while fostering cultural understanding. The Conference was held in cooperation with the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, the Museum Catharijneconvent, the Centre for Religious Art and Culture (Flanders) and the Dutch Future for Religious Heritage Program Future for Religious Heritage. 

One of the major travel motivations is to visit religious sites, essential elements of humankind history and culture. As religious tourism increases every year, UNWTO promotes its strong potential as well as its capacity to build understanding among different faiths and cultures.

“We suffer from deficits of different kind, being the lack of tolerance and understanding, a major one. Religious tourism is one of the driving forces to bring people from varied backgrounds together under a common cause: the admiration and protection of heritage of tangible and intangible nature,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, at the inauguration of the event.

The issues of heritage conservation were a major topic of discussion, particularly in those cases where congestion constitutes a key challenge.

The Conference underlined the contribution of religious tourism to economic prosperity and the role of religious tourism as an added value to the offer of cities, villages and regions. In this respect, the event focused on developing methodologies to assess the social and economic impact of religious heritage tourism and strategies to develop these sites as authentic travel destinations. 

Other topics discussed included marketing strategies to improve access to information related to religious heritage tourism, the role of religious communities to promote religious heritage, the importance of investing in new technologies and capacity building and the role of historic commemorations in promoting religious tourism.

Additional information:

Website of the Conference

Programme of the event

Photos of the Event


UNWTO Media Officer Rut Gomez Sobrino

Tel: (+34) 91 567 81 60 /

UNWTO Communications & Publications Programme

Tel: (+34) 91 567 8100 / Fax: +34 91 567 8218 /

EBRD Communications Adviser Nibal Zgheib

Tel: (+44) 207 338 7753

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