The Virgin Islands Department of Tourism will participate in the First Travel Conference & Expo Saturday and Sunday at Atlanta’s Cobb Galleria to help position the territory as a top choice for the rapidly growing faith travel and tourism market.
Faith tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of world tourism today, with more than 300 million people participating in faith travel every year. It has grown from a niche market to a multi-billion dollar industry, spawning conventions and meetings, leisure vacations, pilgrimage travel, and cruising and retreats.
Renowned church and spiritual leaders, pastors, evangelists, authors and recording artists will join travel agents, Christian, Jewish and other faith-based consumers and travel suppliers for the weekend in Atlanta. It is a fitting venue due to the large number of faith-based nonprofits, including mega-churches and para-church ministries, headquartered in the state of Georgia.
"We are keen about participating in this weekend's conference," said Kay R. Milliner-Kitchens, the Atlanta-based director of sales for Tourism. "We look forward to gaining insight into the latest trends in this important market segment and to sponsoring one of the breaks during which we will highlight our destination's alluring value proposition to faith-based travelers."
According to Allegra Kean-Moorehead, Tourism director of communications, they will be showcasing the territory at a booth at the Expo and sponsoring a meeting break, which will give them an opportunity to highlight the USVI to meeting attendees.
"With our strong faith heritage, historic churches and one of the oldest synagogues in the Western hemisphere, we definitely look forward to the weekend's sessions and to welcoming many more faith-based travelers to our shores," said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty.
The event, according to organizers, combines a comprehensive conference with a diverse marketplace of tour operators and domestic and international tourist offices to help spiritual leaders plan their next trip.
Kean-Moorehead said that part of the Department’s marketing strategy is to reach out to consumers who are most likely to visit the V.I. versus conducting mass-market outreach.
“We hope to showcase what the USVI has to offer this segment in terms of our historic churches and synagogues as well as our accommodations and meeting facilities. There is great potential to attract more faith-based travel to the territory, especially groups and conference events,” she said.