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Faith-based destination rankings

If someone told you that New Orleans and the Holy Land scored equally high as faith-based travel destinations, you might wonder who did the research. In many ways, the two are at opposite ends of the spectrum. There are a couple of good reasons for that, however, as you look more closely at where faith-based groups are going.

Faith-based groups travel to almost all of the major destinations that other groups enjoy, with just a few exceptions. Las Vegas will never rate highly as a faith-based destination, for instance, because church groups don’t often visit gaming destinations. But New Orleans does, and Mardi Gras is just part of its story.

That heavily Catholic, gastronomically charged jazz and blues city offers a multifaceted travel experience for any traveler. And even Mardi Gras finds its roots in tenets related to the Christian faith, as many local revelers indulge a few of their guilty pleasures before entering into the Lenten journey of self-sacrifice. Besides, any group would agree that there’s nothing sinful about beignets and coffee, or a leisurely stroll along Magazine Street.

“After two well-known stops one might expect to see on this list — Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — the Holy Land and New Orleans do rate highest as destinations among this group based on research we conducted at last year’s Going On Faith Conference in Rock Hill, South Carolina,” said publisher Mac Lacy. “Interestingly enough, we’ll enjoy Lancaster this year as our host city, so we expect a great turnout in September.”

Other highly rated destinations are Branson, Missouri; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Gatlinburg, Tennessee — three family-oriented destinations you’d expect to find on the list.

Here are the top 10 faith-based travel destinations as voted by our attendees at the Going On Faith Conference last year:

Tied for first:  Lancaster and Pigeon Forge

Tied for third: New Orleans and the Holy Land

Tied for fifth: Branson; Europe; Myrtle Beach; Washington, D.C.; Ireland; and Gatlinburg