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‘Shrine of Fátima’ to attract religious tourists in Portugal

In a bid to increase the inlux of tourists, a business association of a town in Portugal has, with the support of Turismo de Portugal and Turismo do Centro de Portugal, visited several countries from Asia, Northern Europe and America to promote the ‘Shrine of Fatima’, a popular pilgrimage destination for millions of people since 1917

29th October 2018, 03:55 Hrs

BHARATI PAWASKAR  


Claiming to be one of the most peaceful destinations in the European organisation, Portugal is out and about inviting tourists to its country. There has been no violence and its relations with the neighbouring countries is amicable. There are more sunshine hours in a day and most importantly, it has the shrine of Fátima which has been a popular pilgrimage destination since 1917 for millions of people across the globe. 

Cashing on the popularity of this holy place, ACISO - Business Association Ourém-Fátima, in collaboration with the Municipality of Ourém and the Shrine of Fatima and with the support of Turismo de Portugal and Turismo do Centro de Portugal has been promoting the place for tourism purpose.  

In a recently organised workshop in Goa, ACISO provided an in-depth knowledge of Fátima in Portugal to be promoted as a religious destination with an expectation of increased visitors from the Goan market. The workshop was well attended by travel agents and representatives from hospitality sector in Goa who showed their enthusiasm in sending tourists from Goa to this popular destination in Portugal.  

“We admit that our visit here will increase the visitors to Fátima and the interest in the city will also rise. We wish to present Fatima before Goan market,” stated Domingos Neves, president, ACISO (Associação Empresarial Ourém – Fátima) who spoke at length to The Goan on the religious tourism promotional workshops that were undertaken by ACISO in the past couple of years and how it has resulted in the increase of visitors and tourists to Fatima.  

Domingos maintained that the purpose of this visit to India and to Goa was to promote Fatima as a tourist destination. He observed that though there are no official figures of how many tourists from India visit Fatima each year, there is notable rise in the number of people from Asia who are visiting Fátima. 

“Last year there were 70 groups from India,” said Domingos, adding, “In 2017, there were 9.4 million visitors to Fátima from across the globe according to official records. Since the incident the number of hotels and accommodations has been on the rise. Currently there are 76 hotels and 15,000 beds registered in the area which is only an hour’s drive from the airport in Lisbon.”  

Having completed 100 years in 2017 to the incident that happened in 1917 at Fátima, last year was the year of the celebration in Portugal. Fátima’s importance as a religious tourist destination started two decades ago but it is in the past one decade that witnessed a tremendous growth. “Today, Fátima is important not only to Christians but to all tourists. Some of them may come here only to take pictures but there are others who have spiritual and religious intentions,” observed Domingos. Next year, ACISO will be organising the 7th edition of this workshop in which 300 representatives from 32 countries will be participating.  

“The purpose of the ACISO is to promote destination Fatima and to do so ACISO visited several countries in Asia and North Europe as well as America and because of these visits we could arrive at this number. ACISO held one to one meetings, seminars, exhibitions etc. From 50 buyers in 2012 it grew to 150 buyers in 2018. People from Spain, Italy, Poland, France, USA, India, Brazil etc began to arrive and we gradually grew every year in number. The occupancy rate in Fatima rose by 40 per cent. It’s more than a Catholic place, open to all. The Bishops and the Orthodox Church also visit Fátima and call it the city of peace. People visit here seeking spirituality and inner peace,” claimed Domingos.  

The Mumbai workshop was well attended by travel agencies and representatives in hospitality sector. It is for the first time that ACISO is organising workshops in India. “The Goa workshop too was successful,” exclaimed Domingos who spoke at the workshop organised in Goa at Grande Delmon Hotel in Panaji. ACISO’s similar workshop in Mumbai invited a huge response, he mentioned.  

Fatima is one of the most important catholic shrines in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Fátima’s Sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Fatima now attracts thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, particularly on the pilgrimage days in May and October. The large torch-light processions in the evening are particularly impressive, often lead by Cardinals and Bishops. The pilgrims gather in Cova de Iria an enormous plaza where a little chapel was built and where the Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared to the children.  

The origin of the association dates back to March 19, 1943, with the historic creation of the Trade Guild of the Municipality of Vila Nova de Ourém. In February 1992, ACRO, the Association of Merchants and Retailers of the Municipality of Vila Nova de Ourém, passed the ACISO - Trade, Industry and Services Association of the municipality of Ourém, thus expanding its scope of services and services industry.  

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