With the backing of NTA, a new trade group called the Faith Travel Association (FTA) launched earlier this year, aiming to unite the global religious travel community. In March, Allen Abbott was named executive director of the association.
Going On Faith recently sat down for a wide-ranging conversation with Abbott about the purpose and goals of FTA. Here are excerpts from that interview.
Going On Faith: What is the purpose of launching the Faith Travel Association in an area where similar efforts, including the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA), have failed in recent years?
Allen Abbott: NTA observed the growth potential in the faith-based travel market. They tapped Kevin Wright to expand a variety of markets, and faith-based travel was a logical place to start because of the resources they have on hand.
After 18 months of planning, FTA was officially launched earlier this year at Travel Exchange. I started in March, and within a month, we added two more full-time staff members and a part timer. We believe that you hire stars and build your own galaxy.
GoF: What are your goals in these early days of the association?
Abbott: Market presence is important to the people who have been doing faith-based travel, and there are many tour operators for whom this has been their niche. We want to bring people who are doing this together.
We want to build bridges to the religious world. FTA made a strategic decision to hire me, a ministry professional. They’re serious about bringing people of faith to the table.
It’s going to be interfaith. In North America, Christianity is the strongest, but we’re in an increasingly pluralistic society. All of the world religions have travel as a part of their spiritual growth.
GoF: How is FTA being funded?
Abbott: We have significant investment through NTA. But we will also have advertising and sponsorship opportunities. We hope to be self-funded as quickly as possible.