Making a journey to visit a spiritual site is nothing new, people have been doing that since the dawn of time. One of the oldest spiritual pilgrimage sites is Mount Kailash in Tibet, people have been making the journey there for 15,000 years and Buddhist believe that the month long trek up the mountain can wash away all of your sins. Today, Spiritual Tourism is turning into a lucrative mainstream business.
Spiritual Journeys in the West
When we think of pilgrimages we automatically think of the churches in Europe or the holy land in the Middle East, but they aren’t the only places where a spiritual journey can take place. Natives in North and South America all have their own holy site. First Nations people in British Columbia believe that the Stein Valley holds their sacred sites and tribe members go on vision quests here.
Celebrities and Spiritual Quests
Celebrities not only take it upon themselves to visit sacred sites around the world but their presence there attracts other visitors as well. Back in the 80’s movie actress Shirley MacLaine wrote a book about her spiritual journey in Peru. In 2006 the best-selling book Eat Pray Love was turned into a movie and it featured treks to India and Bali to find balance. After that tourism boomed for women looking to live out the journey featured in the book and the movie.
The Rise in Spirituality
The rise in spirituality came with the hippie movement in the 60’s with the baby boomer generation. Spiritual journeys are as much about exploring your psyche as it is about the physical journey. These journeys are about reinforcing your faith or communing with Mother Earth. Many of the baby boomers of the west are heading to places that are outside their traditional faith. They aren’t heading to the Vatican to see the birthplace of Christianity but to Macchu Picchu or to India to see other places of faith.
Travel companies are seeing these spiritual journeys as a new market to explore. Many of the tourists come back from these places with a new perspective and glowing recommendations from their trip. Travel to visit a sacred site or to go on a pilgrimage is nothing new, however today there is a much different demographic taking the trip.