Facets of Faith: Convention encourages combining faith, travel _lowres

Photo providede by the FTA -- Stephan Tchividjian, grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham, will speak at the Faith Travel Association meeting in New Orleans on Jan. 19.

Readers of this column know that my husband and I incorporate faith-based stops in our travels and that we encourage others to do so.

The Faith Travel Association, a group dedicated to that theme, will meet in New Orleans on Jan. 19.

The FTA estimates that 300 million people make a faith-based trip every year, and that the number is growing.

The one-day FTA conference is at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Travel agents and tour operators can attend as buyers for $49. This includes appointments with travel suppliers; breakfast with Anthony “Tony” Simmons, president and CEO of McIlhenny Company; educational sessions; lunch with numbers from Broadway musicals; and networking opportunities.

At the afternoon general session, the Rev. Stephan Tchividjian, grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham, will speak on the power of faith-based travel. Tchividjian has led faith-based tours to the Middle East and Europe.

The conference includes two breakout sessions, “Working with the Travel Pros: Growing Your Ministry Through Faith-based Travel” and one on marketing to the faith-based traveller.

Registration allows access to the Travel Exchange, which runs Jan. 18-22 and includes the National Tour Association and United Motorcoach Association. At the exchange, the FTA will host a pavilion with exhibitors that include tour companies and tourism boards from places such as Israel, Jordan and Istanbul. Members can help plan journeys to the Holy Land, retreats, mission trips or other travel.

For information or to register, visit faithtravelassociation.com and click FTA Day on the calendar tab.

The organization says, “Faith-based travel is one of the most powerful ways to strengthen faith, develop friendships and promote peace” and that FTA Day is for “faith leaders looking for new ideas for senior group tours, youth retreats, mission trips or pilgrimages.”

Religious travel can include religious heritage tours and festivals, conferences, conventions, a trip to the Holy Land and more.

Your turn

Have you made a pilgrimage? Is there a favorite retreat or a great church to visit while at your favorite resort?

Tell me about your religious travel experience, and I’ll try to run some of the responses.

Keep the stories short, and provide your name and where you live.

Include a phone number or email address so I can contact you if there are questions.

You can post your stories on the comments section on theadvocate.com, email them to lenglish@theadvocate.com or mail them to Leila Pitchford-English at The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-7290.