The most important unit of religious tourism is the sacred site itself. The stronger its connection with legends and myths anchored to the past greater is its tourist value. Places connected with the birth or arrival of religious men and ‘Avatars’ into this world gives the site a sacred appeal and is an important component. Specific details meticulously preserved and propagated in connection with the lives and activities of religious men justify the sacred worth of a site. Details relating to the horse stable where Lord Christ had been born, the sacred tree where he attained enlightenment, the legendary garden where he played in his childhood, fought and defeated the evil forces are all essential components that raises interest and inquisitiveness in the minds of tourists and becomes a place of massive tourist attraction and can rightly be considered important components of religious tourism.
The secondary attraction that blooms around the religious site are ancillary business and the infrastructural developments connected with the religious site are important components too. Wonderful fairs or locally known as ‘Melas’ in India is an amazing mix of crowd vendors, amusement rides, clay models and other ingredients depicting the various stages of lives of saints, lords and prophets, eating joints, dips in sacred rivers and lakes, bizarre and yet curiosity inspiring rituals, devotional songs and a lot more arresting features constitute the essential components of religious tourism.
The priest is the key figure. He is supposed to know all about the customary rituals and sacred rites that are the essential features in worship. When it comes to religious tourism, the priest is the ultimate person in charge. He is your friend, philosopher and guide. He is supposed to show you the gates of heaven and make you accomplish your mission with a happy and fulfilling note. Hence the role of the priest constitutes an important component in religious tourism.
The attitude of the locals and the reverence and importance they attach to the religious site located in their country is important. So far as the infrastructural component is concerned, the mode of access to religious sites plays a significant role. Transportation to the sacred locations has a key impact. It should be safe, cozy, regular, and reliable and the trip expenses must be within the means of an average tourist. In a nutshell, it should fit into the requirements of all kinds of tourists belonging to a wide range of economic bracket. Accommodation demands attention as it is equally a significant component as is transport. Needless to say they should be safe and comfortable, and should answer the needs of tourists belonging to different social standings.
Other essential components of religious tourism encompass several aspects like pleasant weather, exquisite landscapes to inspire the secondary desire for sightseeing, local administration, legal redressal cells and tourist safety. Basic amenities like uninterrupted supply of power and water, general standard of hygiene and the availability of experienced and trusted guides and medical facilities are all essential components favoring religious tourism.
Travel agents and tour operators constitute chief components of religious tourism. In absence of their valuable service and guidance, the trip to religious site may not be an impossible assignment, but definitely it will be a difficult task. It will be like going on an aimless cruise. The consequence will be a waste of money and time. More importantly, you will never know what to look for. After completion of the religious mission, a realization may strike you that many places, which merits a visit has been left unexplored.
The socio-religious interface and the interaction across the boundary between the tourists and the local residents are important components as well. Literature on religious myths, epics, the Vedic texts, the Holy Bible, the Holy Quran, Bhagavat Gita, Zend Avesta and other informative and illustrative books on religion and the teachings of saints and prophets forms the core of religious tourism. It is true these texts do not necessarily exist only in the religious sites in question, they can be read at leisure sitting back in your home but nevertheless they are the initial sources making you aware of a particular religion and its sacred features. These books instill in you a desire for religious trips and may be included as one of the essential components of religious tourism.