East Croatia has great potential for developing religious tourism - forum

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There is great potential for the development of religious tourism in east Croatia, however, this potential has not yet been exploited sufficiently, according to a two-day forum on cultural and religious tourism which started in Vukovar on Wednesday. "Culture and religion must be a single tourist product. We cannot talk about (the eastern Croatian town of) Aljmas and the Marian shrine in Aljmas and not to talk about culture," said Zdenko Cerovic, professor at the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality Management in Opatija.

Cerovic says that pilgrims visiting Croatia account for a mere 0.4% of tourists, however, faith tourism with all its aspects brings approximately 800 million euros in tourism turnover, which is was not a negligible amount.

"About a million pilgrims flocked to our Marian shrines in Croatia for the Feast of Assumption alone (observed on 15 August). This is a huge potential, and we talking about a one-day event, said Tomislav Korov who is in charge of pastoral care for tourists within the Croatian Bishops' Conference.

In 2003, local tourist authorities in Vukovar-Srijem County published a tourist brochure about places of worship and other religious sites in the area, and a brochure about faith tourism in this eastern county is to be released until the end of this year.

Last year, an estimated 11 billion euro was earned in tourism in Croatia.