The membership trade organization, which is also headquartered in Lexington, will serve as a business-building resource for travel professionals, sites and organizations focused on faith-based travel. FTA will also provide connections, education and support for group leaders, religious leaders and travel agents who are planning trips for individuals or groups brought together by their faith or religious community.
“Faith-based travel is an expansive market with both domestic and international appeal,” said Karla DiNardo, NTA Services Inc. president and interim FTA executive director. “Faith-based travel includes diverse experiences such as pilgrimages, events, cruises, adventures, mission/volunteer trips and travel to destinations and attractions that hold special significance to people of various faiths. We’ve worked closely with NTA and the NTA Faith Travel Advisory Council to create an organization that will focus specifically on those involved in faith-based travel around the world.”
Each year more than 300 million people of faith embark on trips around the world, pumping $18 billion into the tourism economy. Some 50,000 churches and worship centers in the United States have travel programs for youth and adults, and FTA can facilitate connecting them with qualified travel professionals. The marketplace even includes colleges; nonprofit organizations; nongovernmental organizations; and leaders, authors and speakers with faith-based missions or messages.
Faith Travel Association will make its debut at Travel Exchange, one of the travel industry’s leading events, which will be held this year in Los Angeles, Feb. 16–20. An annual conference co-hosted by FTA partners NTA and the United Motorcoach Association, Travel Exchange will feature a faith travel pavilion on the show floor with exhibitors from Israel Ministry of Tourism, Meander Travel, Switzerland Tourism, Jordan Tourism Board, the Holy Land Incoming Tour Operator Association and others.
In addition to the 1,100-plus tour operators and motorcoach operators attending Travel Exchange, tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, pastors and religious leaders offering faith-based travel product will be invited to preview FTA on Wednesday, Feb. 19. On Thursday afternoon, the educational session “Increasing Faith-based Travel Profits” and the Faith-based Travel Leaders Forum will be hosted by NTA.