The report published in eTurbo News stated that a growing number of people were visiting historic places with a renewed interest in holy sites. The article noted one Denbighshire village group has been set up to restore a holy well which continues to receive visitors.
Moreover an astonishing 19% of tourists to Wales visited a place of worship during their stay. Bishop of Monmouth, Dominic Walker explained that religious tourism is when people who, may or may not be Christians, go on holiday or on a day trip to visit churches or shrines because they are primarily interested in history or architecture but in so doing may learn something of the Christian tradition and the Christian faith. (www.eturbonews.com)
Chairman of Well-Being Australia, Mark Tronson, has been involved in Australian tourism ministry since 1996 when they established “Australia's Bush Orchestra” in Moruya on the New South Wales south coast.
They have travelled the world researching tourism ministry and has found that most functionaries of ministry associated with tourism are non-hands on. Rather they allow visitors to reflect. This means, by these operators own admission, that in the most part, no one knows whether a response to Jesus Christ and His Salvation was forthcoming.
The issues therefore associated with Christian tourism apply to Great Britain as they do to Moruya or to any other tourism product where a Christian component has been inherently displayed.
Both the USA and Great Britain know how to market its history. In this sense they have a ready audience and those with the vision for evangelism have the capacity to go one step further than simply providing a “site”.
Australia's Bush Orchestra
Mark Tronson has had a passion for Tourism Ministry and established and ran 'Australia's Bush Orchestra' from 1996 through to 2005. At this venue, visitors would take a bush walk through a tall ironbark forest under the sound of a natural bush symphony of bird song dominated by the call of the Bell Miner (Bellbird).
Tourists throughout the world visited and as they wandered around and came for their cuppa and a short video at the end of their walk. Mark Tronson would engage them in conversation. He discovered British people love eccentricity and this was right up their alley!
“Learning about the importance of the art of conversation is crucial as that was how Jesus imparted truth. We discovered that a ministry centred around tourism was very much a people-oriented ministry,” Mark Tronson explained.
And this is what Mark and Delma found lacking in his researches around the world. Very few people knew how to take the next step, from the “site” to “conversational evangelism”.
Now, he's developed a Queensland Gold Coast Tourism Ministry with art and has been able to incorporate much of this additional research into the market place of ministry.
Mark Tronson's numerous visits to the UK have demonstrated that the “money spinner” for the nation is tourism which rivals Britain's major industries and therefore it is imperative Christian outreach is relevant. On only one occasion can he recall a Cathedral tour guide explain the many components within Cathedral worship within an evangelical context and passion for the Salvation of souls.
Australia's Newcastle Cathedral is on the tourist route where visitors are taken on guided tour. Two of the guides are retired ministers, Reverend George Mainprise and Reverend Roger Reid who are taking Christian Tourism to a new level.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html