Religious tourism got a major boost this week as over 700 Pentecostal Assembly of the World delegates are in The Bahamas for its Spring Bishop Board meeting at the Grand Hyatt, Baha Mar.
The meeting, which is being held from March 18th - 24th, has brought together delegates from the United States, the Caribbean and even as far as Asia, according to officials.
Religious Tourism continues to flourish and Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (BMOT) officials are delighted.
Senior Director of National Planning and Special Events Erica Ingraham said the domestic church’s following is good for the Islands of The Bahamas.
“They are all affiliated internationally. A lot of the leaders come to the Islands of The Bahamas and once they come in as a lead – we capitalize on that. We go to solicitation and we put all the steps in place so we can begin to add the incentives,” she said.
“With religious tourism it’s like leisure, like meetings incentives conferences and exhibitions (MICE). The people make the destination. The presiding bishop of this conference has a 6,000-member strong church. He is on the Word Network, he reaches 50 million people. We have to build sustainable entities, sustainable products and sustainable relationships to build our industry.”
Member of Parliament for Golden Isles and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development Vaughn Miller, who is also a pastor in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, shared his excitement about the conclave.
“We know that you did not have to come here. We know you had a multiplicity of choices. But we thank God that you chose to come here to The Bahamas. I trust you will find out that the late Dr. Myles Munroe did not lie. He wasn’t bias, God lives here,” he said.
“There is something about The Bahamas. If you feel that you want to come back, don’t be surprised.”
Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander had similar sentiments and spoke to the importance of religious tourism.
“While you are here, you are letting the world know that there is such a thing as religious tourism. We are trying to convince the world and even here at home that there is a need to invite Christians to come to our shores and worship God with us in spirit and in truth,” he said.
“On behalf of all denominations whether it’s Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Baptist, we all welcome you.”
Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Bishop Charles H. Ellis III said this is the first time in 26 years that the conference is being held in The Islands of The Bahamas.
He said he visits The Bahamas once a year and it is always an easy choice for ministry and vacation.
“Who doesn’t want to come to The Bahamas? I come here for ministry for the local diocese here and this is a great place to vacation as well. If I’m supposed to be here for two days, I come for four days,” the bishop said.
He also spoke about some of the things he loves most about the destination.
“My first trip to The Bahamas was in 1989. I love water. I love parasailing, scuba diving and all of that. Then I started playing golf in 2000 and found out that they have the Ocean Club – I love that course. It’s always a great place to come and to play golf. So water, sun, golf – that brings me to The Bahamas,” he said.
“I’m sure that God has a winter home here in The Bahamas.”
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