Nearly 300 delegates, including travel planners from 20 states and international delegates from nine foreign countries, gathered August 4-6 in South Bend, Indiana, for the 2015 Going On Faith Conference. Several dozen planners came in early or stayed late to enjoy sightseeing options offered across the cities of South Bend/Mishawaka and the northern Indiana Amish region.
“Our footprint across the world has grown over the past decade as the travel industry continues to embrace this significant segment of the market,” said Going On Faith partner Charlie Presley. “It was a milestone of sorts to recognize delegates representing Jordan, Israel, Jamaica, China, Costa Rica, Canada, India, Greece and Kenya at our opening session. We’ve come a long way in 10 years.”
South Bend is a destination with a rich faith-based travel tradition between its internationally known Catholic university, Notre Dame, and the nearby Amish region that encompasses hundreds of square miles of countryside. Amish farms, restaurants and attractions in the communities of Nappanee, Elkhart, Shipshewana and Middlebury were showcased throughout the three-day conference.
“Between our pre-FAMs and the post-FAMs after the conference, we had quite a few of these travel planners in our area for a solid week,” said Carolyne Wallace, director of sales for the South Bend Mishawaka Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We were able to showcase our area’s two most popular destinations, the University of Notre Dame and Northern Indiana Amish Country, at our two evening events, so I think we’ll see a lot of these planners coming back with their groups.”
Two marketplaces over the three days netted a total of more than 4,000 buyer/seller meetings. Victoria Lowe, a Dallas-based speaker on faith-based living and personal fulfillment, addressed delegates during her keynote appearance. The following day, the Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John, Indiana, hosted a Destination Showcase event in the conference theater.
“Our sponsors did a great job all week, and we should make a point of thanking our outstanding meal sponsors by name,” said conference CEO Joe Cappuzzello. “South Bend Mishawaka CVB, with their partners at Notre Dame and the Morris Inn, did an outstanding evening event for us, as did Blue Gate Restaurant and Theatre, with their partners, LaGrange County and the Shipshewana CVB. Globus Family of Brands and Jordan Tourism Board North America hosted our breakfasts, and Citslinc and next year’s host, Greater Ontario, California, CVB, offered very entertaining luncheons.”
The 2016 Going On Faith Conference will take place August 9-11 in Ontario, California. For registration details, visit www.gofconference.com.