2011 Travel News ArchiveTravel

Religious tourism in Santo Domingo

Catholic leaders in Santo Domingo want to get the word out about the religious significance of the Colonial City of Santo Domingo that has the earliest cathedral in the Americas, along with several other historic buildings. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo told the Catholic News Service it is trying to attract attention to the area as a key site for 500 years of religious history, as reported in www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1104738.htm

Working with tourism officials, the archdiocese has developed “religious route” itineraries, taking tourists past 16 churches, convents, monasteries and hospitals that were the foundation of the development of Santo Domingo, the first city in the New World.

A museum dedicated to the area’s religious history and that also celebrates the 500-year long history of the founding of the diocese will soon be open to the general public.

Throughout Latin America, Catholic leaders and tourism officials are working to bring more attention to their religious places and events. More than five centuries since Columbus landed in the Caribbean and Catholicism began to spread through the hemisphere, the region is gaining recognition from international tourists, as reported in catholicnews.com.

“As a destination for faith-based tourism, we’re seeing Latin America receive more attention than it has in the past,” said Kevin Wright, director of growth markets at NTA, a Kentucky-based travel association. Years ago, Latin America was barely on the radar, but in what Wright called the “new era” of faith-based tourism, the region appeals to younger and more adventurous travelers.

“It offers a diversity of experiences,” he said. “It’s an emerging market.”

The faith-based travel portion of the tourism market is worth an estimated US$18 billion a year around the globe. The most popular destinations for Catholic pilgrimages remain, by far, the Holy Land and Europe.