The most important driving force to inspire religious tourism is the intensity of faith. A religious site is a destination looked upon by tourist with great awe and respect. At times, scientific explanations and logic fails answering a crisis. Seeking a solution at the altar of god seems the last resort. This infuses hope and a need for a sacred trip inspiring religious tourism. The key driver for religious tourism comes in existence, and the tourist starts making arrangements for the trip.
It is important that the picture built in the mind of the tourist must not get tarnished by corruption and mean designs at the religious sites that exist making religion a trading commodity. The contribution of the society down the ages towards making a destination a seat of religious heartland is considered a key factor. The role of the kings and monarchs merit a mention in this context as well. Many of them were great patrons of culture and religion. They are remembered as great exponents of temple design and architecture. The splendid eloquence in stone and the intricate carvings that give amazing ornamentation to temples, churches, mosques, synagogues and gurudwaras are features of definite attractions. They drive in tourists in large numbers apart from the divine atmosphere, encapsulating the environment of the religious site giving it a dimension far above the mundane affairs of regular routine life. What puts a holy site on the tourist map is the grandeur of the place of worship.
Legends and epics that run back in time explaining the origin of divine significance would be an added bonus. It is a sure shot driving force responsible for putting a site on the popularity bar of religious tourism. Sometimes the hostile nature of the terrain, the long flight of steps, the wilderness and the harshness of nature and other obstacles you need to surmount and those that eventually leads you to the place of worship you are looking for enhances the appeal of your quest for religious tourism. It is a state much akin to attainment of ‘nirvana’ or the eternal knowledge of enlightenment and eventually the nearness to the almighty. You achieve this after a hard penance and dedicated endeavor. This is something very satisfying and is certainly a key driver inspiring religious tourism among people.
Sometimes the religious tourism sites feature mammoth and yet graceful sculptures of deities as is seen in the statue of Vardamana Mahaveera, the founder of Jainism or the gigantic statue of Hanumana, the monkey god of Hindu mythology. These are awe inspiring structures occasionally cut out from monoliths and consecrated with sacred water, milk, coconuts, vermillion, flowers and other offerings to the accompaniment of chants laden with passion. The high priest scales up the giant scaffolding to perform the religious round of rituals to the delight and reverence of thousands of devotees gathered below. These indeed are key drivers inspiring religious tourism.
Support and patronization by the government of a nation towards religious tourism is another key promoting religious tourism. Financial assistance to pilgrims, upgradation of infrastructural set ups and efficient management of pilgrim rush by deploying state administrative machinery are distinct key drivers in this direction. The Saudi government provides financial assistance to help Muslims abroad to fulfill their lifelong dream of attending the Haj. Similarly, there is airways fare subsidy known as Haj subsidy, which is on offer to the Indian Muslim Haj pilgrims way back since 1973.These are definitely positive steps initiated and can be termed key drivers inspiring religious tourism.
A key driver that can become a deciding factor for the future of religious tourism is cleanliness and hygiene. Tidier the place of worship more will be the tourist influx. However, quite paradoxically many religious destinations in India cleanliness are an exception. Flocks of poverty stricken paupers and vagabonds are seen around religious sites. Extreme poverty has driven them in an effort to collect alms from the pilgrims making the entire site shabby. This is thought provoking and a very sensitive issue as well infringing the borderline between expunging the embarrassment born out of poverty, filth and morbid misery in one hand and the sensitive issue of denying human rights on the other. However, this issue is indeed a driving factor having a bearing on the volume of tourist visits to a religious site.