Religious Tourists Still Flocking to Italy

Easter likely to see 100,000 in St. Peter's Square
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 7:56 AM CDT
Religious Tourists Still Flocking to Italy
Pope Benedict XVI, center, blesses faithful as he leaves after celebrating an open-air Palm Sunday mass in St. Peter's square at the Vatican Sunday, April 5, 2009.    (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

While industries around the world feel the weight of recession, Italy’s religious tourism appears fairly immune, USA Today reports. “It's one of the only areas where things haven't slowed down much," said a religious tour marketer. "Religious pilgrims still want to have the same experiences”—and with Easter at hand, their numbers are set for an annual peak.

Italy boasts more churches and sanctuaries per capita than any other country, including seven of the 10 most-visited Christian sanctuaries worldwide. And on Easter, the Vatican expects some 100,000 to flood St. Peter’s Square. But the volume won’t likely be a significant boost to Italy’s economy. While they’re often richer than their secular counterparts, “religious tourists probably tend to spend less money than average," said a tourism official. "After all, churches don't cost anything to visit.”
(Read more Italy stories.)

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