By Daniel Chigundu
ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke says religious tourism is not about Christianity but about all the religions that exist in the country.
Religious tourism can be described as faith-based travel and includes various activities that range from pilgrimages, missionary work, faith-based tours, church services and conferences among many other related events.
Although Zimbabwe has a Religious Tourism Policy, it is only Christianity which appears to have embraced the concept and has benefitted from a few interventional conferences and meetings.
Zimbabwe is generally open to some of the world’s leading religions and has gone further to allow its citizens freedom of association and freedom of choice a development which has seen the likes of African Tradition Region, Islam, Rastafarian and Hinduism existing without much hindrance.
In an interview, the ZTA boss said while religious tourism is still in its infancy it is however for every religion in the country.
“Religious tourism is not something that we want to talk about very much as a tourism authority because we are still nurturing it; we are still nurturing religious tourism we don’t want to talk as if we are very much up there.
“We are still crawling, but look when you talk about religious tourism look at Israel yes you can talk about religious tourism, look at Egypt they have something to show but Zimbabwe doesn’t have much to show,” he said.
Dr Kaseke said while religious tourism is small in the country; it is however further discouraged by misconceptions that it is for Christians only.
“Religious tourism is not Christian tourism that is where the problem is, you want to call it religious tourism but you are basically talking about Christianity religion.
“Religious tourism is about religion, it’s not about Christianity, Christianity is one of these religions so we must know that when talking about religious tourism what are we exactly talking about, are we talking about the Christianity which tend to be the case but that is very wrong,” he said.
The ZTA boss added that when people talk about religious tourism they must talk about all its aspects and not link it with a particular religion.
He said his organisation is working out a means to see how the country can benefit from religious tourism.
“We must talk about religious tourism and all its aspects Christianity is a religion, but it’s not the only religion so we are still trying to map it up and try to see how best religious tourism can benefit this nation from a tourism point of view,” he said.
Other countries across the world are doing very well in terms of religious tourist and they are attracting millions of religious tourists and a good example is Israel where people go to see the various places recorded in the Bible, earning that country the much needed tourism receipts and wards of foreign currency.