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Millions Budgeted for Religious Tourism

The first interregional plan for the development of religious tourism has been approved. It forms part of the EU’s Interreg III B program, implemented by Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Malta. The body responsible for the program here is the Greek National Tourism Organization, in association with the Church of Greece.

The most important points of the four-country project include the drafting of a plan for the creation of a Mediterranean network of religious tourism and the development and application of common policies for the promotion of religious tourism in the Mediterranean.

Other aspects include the training of young people for religious tourism, international meetings of travel agents, the creation of an Internet site and the production of print and electronic material.

Particular emphasis will be given to meetings with travel agents for the creation of holiday package programs that would combine the development of religious tourism with a destination’s other unique tourism products (e.g. gastronomy, wine routes, etc).

Already, in the context of the program for the improvement of competitiveness, the cultural and religious tourism project “In the Footsteps of Paul the Apostle” is being promoted.

This project will upgrade and promote all the locations where Saint Paul passed through and taught at while in Greece.

Among others, the following areas have been selected: Samothraki, Kavala, Philippi, Apollonia, Thessaloniki’s Ancient Market, Veria, the Roman Forum, Faliron, the Acropolis, the Ancient Port of Kechries and Corinth. More stops are to be added.

Tourism Minister Fani Palli-Petralia says her ministry has budgeted 3.1 million euros for projects to enhance religious tourism throughout the year.

EU’s Interreg III B program is a Community initiative that aims to stimulate interregional cooperation in the EU between 2000 and 2006 and is financed under the European Regional Development Fund.

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