Spiritual Tourism Destinations Grow Rapidly


Spiritual tourism has grown fast in terms of destinations and marketing potential, a tourism practitioner said.

Ismoyo Soemarlan, head of promotions at the Indonesian Tourism Industry Association (GIPI) Bali branch, was speaking in a discussion on Bali as an international spiritual tourism destination held.

Soemarlan said that Bali had great religious and cultural wealth, being a perfect destination for those seeking spiritual fulfillment on their vacation.

“Around 20 percent of foreign tourists come to Bali to spend their vacation attending Yoga classes, traveling to religious sites and doing other spiritual or healing activities,” he said, quoting the latest data from the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agencies (ASITA).

In 2012, about 2.81 million foreigners vacationed on the island of Bali. This was in addition to the 6 million domestic travelers who also visited the island on holiday.

As a spiritual destination, Bali can promote its precious historical and religious sites, such as sacred temples and other structures.

Soemarlan said that the spiritual tourism concept went beyond activities related to specific religions. “It encompasses people of diverse cultural, social and religious backgrounds. People come here to experience activities that enlighten their souls and minds,” he said.

Agung Prana, award-winning tourism practitioner, expressed his support for the development of spiritual tourism packages.

“Bali has been recognized as an island filled with religious and cultural activities. The island spreads spiritual vibrations to those coming here looking for soul-enhancement,” Prana said.

People were currently living in stressful conditions because of their demanding jobs and lifestyles.

“They arrive at a point of saturation in their lives, seeking a more balanced lifestyle. Bali offers many things to create a balanced and harmonious life,” Prana said.

In the last ten years, many visitors, ranging from the world’s top celebrities, to scholars and the general public have come to stay in Bali at various spiritual locations, including ashrams (spiritual retreats) and Yoga centers.

“Participants were corporate executives, artists, businessmen, academics from countries such as Australia, Germany, Japan, Russia and the US,” explained Prana.

In Buleleng regency in north Bali, foreigners were invited to stay in villages and to take part in the lives of the locals.

Ida Bagus Sidharta Putra, chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Denpasar, elaborated that the concept of spiritual tourism in Bali dealt with diverse aspects of the lives of Balinese people and society.

Many people come to Bali to learn how the Balinese perform their religious obligations and experience spiritual journeys while staying on the island.

Hotels, villas and tourist establishments are starting to develop facilities for guests who want to spend their vacations in a serene and fulfilling way.

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