Pune: While the world has countless tourism spots from which travellers can pick and choose, India is seeing a steady growth in a kind of travel that is different from the usual ‘business’ and ‘leisure’ categories - spiritual tourism!
Nearly 45 per cent of Indians take a pilgrimage once every year, while 15 per cent people take a pilgrimage every six months. This was revealed in a survey conducted by travel service provider SOTC.
Religious places are ranked high in preferred tourist destinations for Indians and the demand for spiritual tourism continues to grow, the survey stated. Tirupati, Rameshwaram and Varanasi are the most preferred spiritual destinations for Indians.
Speaking about religious tourism, officials said, “The National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report shows that between 2007 and 2015, the share of respondents in India who perceived religion to be very important increased by 11 per cent to 80 per cent. The average expenditure on religious trips has more than doubled during this period. According to National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), half of the package trips were made for religious and pilgrimage purposes and about 28 per cent for leisure and holiday purposes. These are clear indicators of the expansion in the sector.”
Travel portals and agencies are going the extra mile to cater to travellers who want to visit places of religious importance. The tours have been designed keeping in mind the specific needs of the travellers to seamlessly aid their spiritual journey. The package includes peaceful, quick, convenient, hassle-free religious experience, pooja, special ‘havan,’ ‘abhishek’, assisted temple visits, amongst others.
SOTC has also introduced darshans in association with ePuja, India’s first online portal for religious ceremonies.
Managing Director, SOTC Travel, Vishal Suri said, “Spiritual tourism is the single largest category in domestic tourism which is an untapped and fragmented. Indians are seeking a pre-planned, organised, comfortable, spiritual travel experience.”