Christian tourism is the term used to describe a particular segment of the tourism industry that caters to Christians desiring to visit historical sites relevant to that religion. The term also applies to tours established to assist Christian groups who wish to travel abroad to perform charitable works. While individual Christians do participate in Christian tourism, the term largely applies to tours organized for group members of churches, as well as other faith-based organizations. Among the more popular destinations in Christian tourism are Israel and Greece.
Some travel agencies specialize in offering Christian travel packages. As such, a travel agent may work with a religious group to organize a pilgrimage to one or more sites that the group deems holy. Such organizing typically includes things like air and ground transportation, room accommodations, shopping and recreational activities. While Christian tourism is primarily intended to offer educational and devotional components, a fair amount of leisurely activities are also included in most tours.
By participating in religious tourism, adherents are able to visit historical lands spoken of in holy texts. In many cases these types of tourism packages are not designed to be mere geographical visits, however. Groups are often accompanied by one or more tour guides who share significant historical knowledge about sites and who work to arrange cultural exchanges with other churches, as well as local people and groups currently living near a pilgrimage site.
Groups also engage in Christian tourism to offer assistance to people in need. Just as Christian pilgrimage groups travel to religious sites with historical significance, groups are often organized to help people living in countries that have been devastated by war, famine and other natural disasters. This type of Christian tourism is sometimes more of a spontaneous effort and often does not include the shopping or recreational components that other tours in this travel genre do.
Travelers often come to engage in Christian tourism through faith-based organizations, such as churches and Christian charity groups. While some countries are selected based upon their historical value, some tours are also organized on a regular basis for church members to form relationships with others in foreign lands. For example, it is not unusual for a church in one country to adopt an organization, such as a hospital, school or an orphanage, in another country and plan regular trips to that adopted organization in order to lend assistance and build lifelong relationships with members of the adopted organization.