Holy-days: Britons Spend £2.2. Billion A Year On Religious Vacations

08 October 2012

2.2 million Britons have been on a religious pilgrimage, or visited a site of religious interest, when on holiday in the last 12 months(1)


New research(1) from Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance reveals more than 2.2 million Britons have been on a religious holiday in the last 12 months.  Britons heading away specifically for a religious pilgrimage, or to visit a site of religious interest in the last 12 months, spent on average over £1,000 on their trip. Over the last year the cost of Britons’ religious vacations – ‘holy-days’ – totalled over £2.2 billion.  


Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance is urging holiday makers to carefully consider their travel insurance needs, making sure that they have a good quality policy in place and have considered cover for pre-existing medical conditions, cover for theft of possessions including cash. Importantly, as many of these holidays are independently arranged, travellers should make sure their policy covers independent travel arrangements such as the private booking of flights, hotels and onward travel.


The supermarket bank is also encouraging holidaymakers to check with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office ( before they travel and to check with their travel insurance provider that they can provide cover for their planned destination.


Jo Nola, Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance Manager commented: “Whether it is a religious pilgrimage, or simply to see a Church or site of architectural interest, millions of Britons are taking faith orientated holidays. With the average faith holiday costing over £1,000, it’s really worth ensuring you have good quality travel insurance so that you have peace of mind and protection should any hitches occur.”


European locations top the list of religious vacation destinations abroad, however, in the last 12 months Britons have travelled the world in search of a spiritual awakening taking in such sights as the Butu Cave’s in Malaysia andBrahma Sarovar in Kurukeshetra, India(1)


The number one(1)  destination when visiting sites of religious interest is Lourdes, France, which witnesses a mass pilgrimage from March to October each year.  Visitors flock to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes where the spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties.  People who plan to travel abroad with a medical condition should check their travel insurance policy to ensure they are covered, as many policies have exclusions for certain medical conditions. 


The top 10 destinations(1) for a religious holiday abroad in the last 12 months:


  1. Lourdes (France)
  2. Vatican City (Italy)
  3. Western Wall/ Wailing Wall (Israel)
  4. Bethlehem (Palestine)
  5. Knock (Ireland)
  6. Assisi (Italy)
  7. Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
  8. Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
  9. Amritsar (India)
  10. Haifa (Israel)


Interestingly, the research(1)  reveals that younger age groups are more likely to visit sites of religious interest or jet away for a religious pilgrimage than the older generation. More than one-in-ten (12%) of those aged 18-24 have been on a religious vacation in the last 12 months compared to seven per cent of those aged 25-54 and just four per cent of those aged 55 and over.  People jetting away to visit religious sites are advised to research their destination to ensure they dress appropriately and observe the local customs and rituals, government travel guidance is available at  


On a regional basis residents of London (12%) are the most likely to have been on a religious holiday in the last 12 months, closely followed by Northern Ireland (11%). Residents of Scotland are the least likely to have taken a holiday specifically for a religious pilgrimage, or to visit a site of religious interest in the last 12 months(1)


Table shows percentage of Britons, on a regional basis, taking religious vacations


Region Percentage of residents that have taken a religious vacation in the last 12 months(1)
London 12%
Northern Ireland 11%
North of England 7%
Rest of the South 7%
Midlands andWales 6%
Scotland 4%


Source:  Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance


To obtain a Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance quote you can log onto or call 0800 316 1452. Lines are open 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm Saturday, and 9am – 5pm on Sunday.


– Ends –

For further information, please contact:

Ian Morris / Citigate Dewe Rogerson

020 7282 1049


Notes to editors:

(1)   Research commissioned by Sainsbury’s Bank on behalf of its Travel Insurance division. Vision Critical conducted a research study amongst 2,012 British adult holidaymakers between 12th-28th May 2012

(2)   Available on Standard cover option; full policy details are available at



Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance is provided by FirstAssist Insurance Services Limited and underwritten by Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC. Both companies are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.



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