Fatima (Portugal) celebrates the XI Workshops and the XX International Congress of Religious and Sustainable Tourism


On February 22 and 23, 2024, Fátima, Portugal, will become the global epicenter of religious and sustainable tourism, simultaneously hosting the XI International Religious Tourism Workshops (IWRT) and the XX International Congress of Religious and Sustainable Tourism (CITRyS ). These events, scheduled to take place at the Paul VI Pastoral Center, are not just meetings; They represent a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas, business strategies and promotion of destinations in the context of global religious tourism.

The organization of these events is carried out by ACISO - Ourém-Fátima Business Association, the City Council of Ourém, and the City Council of Guarda, who, with the support of important regional and national entities, seek to promote religious tourism in Portugal and in the world. This joint effort underlines the importance of Fátima as an internationally renowned pilgrimage destination, and highlights the expansion of activities towards Guarda, especially with regard to Jewish heritage tourism, thus uniting religious and cultural diversity in tourism promotion.

In the 11th edition of the IWRT, the participation of 262 professionals from the tourism sector is anticipated, including international buyers and suppliers, from 40 countries. This event is characterized by its focus on pre-scheduled business meetings (B2B), offering an exceptional platform for networking and exploring new business opportunities. The fact of having 42 companies and institutions in the exhibition space, both Portuguese and foreign, shows the growing interest and relevance of the event in the sector.

Paraguay, as a guest country, reflects the organizers' intention to encompass a broader range of religious traditions and experiences. The participation of a delegation led by the Minister of Tourism of Paraguay, along with the focus on promoting the country's authentic religious tourism experiences, underscores the dynamism and diversity of religious tourism globally.

The CITRyS, for its part, has a history of promoting sustainable religious tourism since its creation in 2004. The traveling of the event to various countries reflects its mission to integrate and promote religious tourism within the scope of MERCOSUR and, more recently, in Europe. The choice of Fátima as the venue for the 2024 edition not only reaffirms the importance of Portugal in religious tourism, but also promotes international dialogue and collaboration in the sustainable development of the sector.

The tradition of the delivery of the Pilgrim's Staff symbolizes the continuity, respect and connection between the different venues and communities that have hosted the CITRyS over the years. This event, which will take place during the inaugural session, embodies the essence of pilgrimage and the shared commitment to religious and sustainable tourism. Both events will offer a rich agenda that includes conferences, business sessions and networking activities, designed to enrich the experience of participants and promote religious tourism as an essential pillar of global tourism.

The convergence of IWRT and CITRyS in Fátima not only highlights the importance of this city as a pilgrimage destination, but also reinforces Portugal's role as a leader in promoting religious and sustainable tourism on the international stage.

Pilar Valdés, general manager of the World Religious Tourism Destinations Network

Presence of the Tourism and Society Think Tank

The presence of the Tourism and Society Think Tank (TSTT) at the XI International Religious Tourism Workshops and the XX International Congress of Religious and Sustainable Tourism in Fátima, Portugal, is highlighted with a special conference by Mr. Antonio Santos del Valle, president of the TSTT. During this event, Santos del Valle will present the World Religious Tourism Destinations Network, a Tourism and Society Think Tank program that has been presented at international events such as the International Tourism Fair held in Buenos Aires (Argentina) and the Tourism Fair of Madrid - Fitur'24 held last January in Madrid (Spain)

The significant achievements achieved during the last year by the TSTT Religious Tourism Working Group, made up of international experts, academics and companies specialized in international religious tourism, and which has resulted in the creation of the Network as a result of this collaborative effort. World Religious Tourism Destinations Network, a pioneering initiative that brings together representatives from countries with diverse beliefs, rich heritages and inherited cultures, and which is a key program of the Tourism and Society Think Tank.

The main objective of this Network is to promote religious tourism as a means for intercultural dialogue, mutual understanding and local economic development. The Network offers its members a platform for collaboration, access to marketing resources and the opportunity to participate in international events, thus promoting an inclusive and sustainable approach to religious tourism. This initiative seeks to connect travelers, religious and spiritual tourism enthusiasts, and destinations around the world, strengthening the understanding and appreciation of diverse religious traditions and practices.

In addition, the congress program in Fátima is enriched with the participation of Pilar Valdés, general director of the World Religious Tourism Destinations Network. Valdés will present an outstanding conference, in which he is expected to share innovative visions and development strategies for religious tourism worldwide, and his experience in developing the Jubilee Year program being celebrated in Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia – Spain).

This conference represents a unique opportunity for attendees to gain a deeper perspective on how the World Religious Tourism Destinations Network is working to connect diverse destinations with the broad spectrum of tourists interested in religious and spiritual experiences. Antonio Santos and Pilar Valdés' presentation is anticipated to address critical topics such as sustainability, religious destination marketing, and best practices for inclusion and respect between different religious traditions in tourism.

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