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Dominican Republic holidays also ideal for faith-based tourism

For many, Dominican Republic holidays are synonymous with romantic Caribbean getaways. However, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santo Domingo is attempting to highlight that the island is also an ideal spot for religious tourism.

Dominican Republic holidays also ideal for faith-based tourism

Despite the growing success of the Dominican Republic’s tourism sector, the Catholic Archdiocese of Santo Domingo feels that the island’s religious tourism industry is yet to reach its full potential. And with an increasing number of travellers choosing the Dominican Republic as their travel destination it's not hard to see why. According to official reports the number of people booking luxury holidays in the Dominican Republic is expected to have increased by five per cent in 2011 with the number of tourists in 2011 approaching a record breaking five million.

Located in the Caribbean island of Hispanola, the Dominican Republic is often thought to be synonymous with sun, sea and sand. As a testament to the beautiful beaches scattered across the nation, it has been awarded the most blue flag beaches in Latin America at the end of November 2011. However, fewer people are aware of the fact that the nation is steeped in 500 years of religious history; and this precisely is something that Catholic leaders in the Caribbean nation are hoping to change in the coming years.

In an effort to boost the religious tourism industry, the Archdiocese has been collaborating with local tourism officials to help showcase a different side to Dominican Republic holidays. Together, they have developed tours guiding holidaymakers along a route where they can expect to see various historical religious sites including churches, convents, hospitals and monasteries.

Catholic leaders in the Dominican Republic, and Latin America as whole, hope to distinguish themselves from their European peers by underscoring their less ornate design styles. Father Robert Higgins of the Diocese of Charleston, S.C stated, “You still find beautiful structures with all the gold and marble, but in Latin America it's in a more muted fashion…There is a level of simplicity and humility you find there.”

Faith-based tourism is a growing niche market, raking in approximately $18 billion globally. Popular destinations like the Holy Land have made the largest contributions to the industry; however, the Dominican Republic, along with other Latin American destinations, is becoming increasingly popular with religous travellers.

Kevin Wright, director of growth markets in the US based travel association, NTA noted that, “As a destination for faith-based tourism, we're seeing Latin America receive more attention than it has in the past, years ago, Latin America was barely on the radar, but in the "new era" of faith-based tourism, the region appeals to younger and more adventurous travellers”. It is the hope of Catholic leaders nation-wide that this growth continues and tourists planning Dominican Republic holidays do so with the intention of visiting not only the traditional attractions but the holy sites as well.

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