Spirituality is defined by the Mirriam Webster dictionary as "of or relating to sacred matters” or "related or joined in spirit”. Still, this can mean different things for each of us. For most people spirituality involves a "path”. For some simply traveling life’s path is spirituality. The traveling part is our experience, and there we discover a connection to something bigger than each of us.
Spiritual tourism is based on the idea that we travel to a place to discover this connection. For many, spiritual tourism is a pilgrimage, a long, strenuous journey to a far off land. Destinations like Jerusalem, Mecca or India come to mind. Unfortunately the second thought that follows usually is, "I can’t just drop everything and go to India!” Good news, spiritual vacations exist much closer to home. We have educational retreat centers on Cortes Island, yoga ashrams in the Kootenays, or a resort "where Stillness speaks” in Oyster Bay; the options are there for you to experience.
A survey conducted by the Travel Industry Association found that 25% of us are interested in taking a spiritual vacation. It is actually the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry and for good reason; after the beach holidays, the ski holidays, and the spa holidays, there is still a void for many. We are missing "something”, there is a longing, an incompleteness. This something can only be found within oneself. These spiritual destinations are designed to support your spiritual growth and assist with your inward journey.
I believe the void cannot be filled by outward experiences. Your inner peace, your stillness, comes from within. Spiritual tourism will be very important for people now and in the future because it provides people the opportunity, the environment and the tools to discover the connection to the source of all things. Everything we’ve created and will provide stems from stillness. I too was searching for that ‘something’ and am blessed to have connected with what I was missing. To be still is to be at peace and totally content with the moment. All of a sudden, you’re no longer missing something; you’re complete, you’re whole. That experience is lasting transformation.
There are many local destinations that promote Spiritual growth and fall into the Spiritual Tourism category. Filling the void and connecting to spiritual self has never been made so available and so supported. The next time you are choosing your trip or weekend get-a-way ask yourself "do I want to have an outward or an inward experience”. A week long travel experience to far-away destinations uses up 2 days just to arrive, turning a seven day holiday into five. While a great tan is nice, inner-peace may be more meaningful and have a longer lasting impact. Perhaps we can see the many values of vacationing closer to home. We do live in one of the most pristine places in the world, why not take some time to be still and enjoy it?