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August 28 2014
The unlimited ceasefire reached this week has hopefully brought the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas to a close. It has been a sad and distressing time, but Israel has a long history of bouncing back to complete normalcy with lightning speed. On September 1, more than a million Israeli children of all faiths will be returning to school after the summer break, and life moves on.
Even at the height of the conflict during the last 50 days, there were some 100,000 tourists in Israel whose travel plans remained largely unchanged.
Also during those 50 days, Ben Gurion International Airport – considered by experts to be the most secure in the world – was fully operational, despite a 36-hour period in late July when some overseas airlines briefly paused its Tel Aviv flights. All is back to normal now – with some 90 airlines operating their usual schedules to Israel, including as many as 10 flights daily nonstop from North America on Air Canada, Delta, EL AL, United and US Airways. Fall doesn’t come to Israel until November so the vacation season in Israel continues in full swing. Tourism sites, museums, holy places, attractions, hotels, restaurants, theaters, concerts halls and night spots are open and operating as usual.
Of course we understand that there has been considerable concern and some cancellation of future tours. The directors of the Israel Government Tourism Offices will be happy to assist you in reassuring your clients about the safety and viability of all aspects of tourism to Israel.
About a month from now, Israelis and Jews everywhere will be celebrating a new year – 5,775 in the Hebrew calendar. May it be a new year of peace, calm and joy for us all.
Senior Deputy Director General & Head of the Marketing Administration
5 Bank of Israel Street P.O. Box 1018 Jerusalem 91009
At Quebec City’s Notre-Dame de Québec basilica, Sunday Dec. 8 will see a rare Catholic ceremony, performed once a generation.
In an ages-old ritual, the Catholic archbishop of Quebec will rap three times on a bronze Holy Door — the first in the Americas — and wait for it to be opened so that he can pass through.
The opening of the door Sunday is a powerful moment in a ceremony that dates back to Rome in the 1400s, but has never, until now, taken place outside Europe.
Beyond the symbolism of the open door, church leaders hope that pilgrimages and other celebrations around next year’s 350th anniversary of the basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec may be a turning point in the province’s decades-long slide into secularism.
“I believe this is a wonderful opportunity and a concrete way of inviting all to come to Notre-Dame de Québec during the Jubilee year to experience a renewal in their faith,” says Archbishop Gérald Lacroix.
Notre-Dame de Québec, in the heart of old Quebec City, was the first Catholic diocese north of Mexico and the Spanish colonies. Seen as the mother parish of all Catholic dioceses in Canada and the U.S., it was once the largest in the world, stretching from the St. Lawrence River to the Gulf of Mexico.
Article published in Tourisme Plus, September 20th, 2013 (translated by Jessica Walker)
130 people, including thirty travel agents, met last night (September 19) at the Salle Le Rizz in Montreal for a gala evening held in honor of the tenth anniversary of the travel agency, Spiritours .
In the presence of her team and also of comedian Jean–Marie Lapointe and Sœur Angèle,who will both soon accompany a group of travellers, Anne Godbout, CEO and founder of the agency, took advantage of the festive atmosphere to kickoff her 2014 brochure.
Spiritours now has seven full-time employees and several suppliers and partners in their network (the representatives from the tourist offices of Spain, France and Mexico were present). The agency remembers its beginnings ten years ago: « Spiritours frightened some people who could not distinguish between religion and spirituality« , indicated Ms. Godbout.
Over the years, Spiritours decided to offer two components, namely wellness & personal growth tours (eg. a safari in Kenya, a silent trek in the Sahara in Tunisia…) and Christian pilgrimages accompanied by a priest. « Often, some begin a journey as tourists or as hikers and complete it as pilgrims, after going through an inner transformation. The freedom of each is important and we do not impose anything « , said Anne Godbout
Although the proportion of travelers who come from travel agents is relatively small, the numbers are growing, and today Spiritours averages 1,500 clients each year. From this lot, 75 percent are women, ranging from 50 to 70 years old (in average).
Custom Group Tours
At present, the majority of Spiritours customers come from custom group tours and trips that are designed around a specific event such as the World Youth Day (Brazil 2013), a Eucharistic Congress, a canonization (that of John Paul II in 2014)…
« In these cases, we are talking about hundreds of people who leave together for the same trip. Otherwise, we try to keep the groups small on regular tours », said Ms. Godbout. Thus, a group for a welness & personal growth tour include between six and fifteen people, while pilgrimages have up to 25.
Exclusive Travel and Trends 2014
The most popular destinations for Spiritours are the Holy Land ( 450 people of twenty groups last year) and Santiago de Compostela, assured Ms. Godbout.
« More and more travel agents want to sell our products because they are exclusive » , she said , adding that some agents will even form a group and then assign them. « They know a priest, but do not have enough experience with the Holy Land , so they come to us as a wholesaler » she said. Spiritours promises that there will be no solicitation from them to their customers.
For 2014, travelers of wellness & personal growth tours may opt for a cruise in Alaska, a cultural tour in Andalusia and the Mayan Route in the Yucatan Peninsula , Mexico. In regard to pilgrimages, they will be offering new tours in France , Ireland , Italy and Portugal to name a few.
« I think we have modernized the image of pilgrimages », concluded Ms. Godbout
For more Information : www.spiritours.com
From each perspective, from one article to another, India can be seen or presented in many different ways. In fact, there are so many “Indias”, that each visitor is shaped by their own personal experience.
This Haiku entry is seen as an example. India that is at the same time both wonderous and loud … the very same sound. Does this mean that there is no silence? No, but it is rare … it needs to be savored and sometimes cultivated.
For anyone who steps there for the first time will surely be in « Ahh » with joy after such a long flight. And just as quickly followed by an « Ahhh! » of happiness in comfort from the heat … then to another « Ahhhhhh! » assured by the transportation (which is air conditioned) to the accommodation.
In a first release, there will be plenty of « Oh, » before the new, the unusual front, before the unexpected, before the commotion, before the overload of information and stimulation as well as constant contact, caused by the overcrowding.
Then the first real communication efforts, there will be those « »Huh? » » moments that the ear will instinctively focus on this Hindu-British (or British-Bengali) accent. Usually the universal decoder based brain adjusts to the third day …Tika[i] !
As for the « Oufs » there are essentially two kinds: there are « Oufs! » movements (even better, as the movement is reversed and you’re all mixed up, you dodged), and there are « Oufs! » the end of the day when the body finally
During the Synod on the New Evangelization held in Rome in October, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, said: « A pilgrimage to the Holy Land is a great way to rekindle your faith. It allows you to better know the history, culture, and geography of those born where are the mysteries in which we believe. »
For 27 years I have accompanied and guided the pilgrims to the Holy Land (Israel, Palestine, and Jordan) and I agree in exactly the same way: the visit of the Holy Land confirms and strengthens the faith of those who come to discover it!
What strikes me is that many people say that they discover, deepen, and even find the love of reading the Bible. They return with images, emotions, experiences and a profound spiritual experience.
For most pilgrims, the journey becomes the beginning or deepening of a strong spiritual journey and they become carriers of the Good News they have received and shared for a few days with a guide, a spiritual leader, and other pilgrims.
Jerusalem, the Holy City, is probably the most important pilgrimage site in the world! In this city, we find the Holy Sepulcher which houses the Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus;
A group of 30 pilgrims set off from Montreal on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land from November 5 to November 17, 2012. At Zurich airport, while we waited for our flight to Tel-Aviv, Fr. Francis McKee led us in a short Morning Prayer and praise and worship with his guitar. How it must have pleased the heart of God to see His faithful openly dedicating their day to Him.
Our pilgrimage consisted of four nights in Nazareth and six nights in Jerusalem and from each of these focal points, we covered a good part of the country and its sacred sites. From Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus, to Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, we went up and down the country where Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the apostles lived. One of the highlights of our pilgrimage was being able to celebrate daily Eucharist in special churches. From the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth to the Holy Sepulchre Church in Jerusalem, we were able to lay on each of these altars the petitions that we were carrying with us. Since we were in a hotel in Old Jerusalem, very close to the Holy Sepulchre Church, we were able to visit, pray and celebrate Eucharist at this holy site often. The faith of the Christians who come from all over the world is indeed impressive to watch.
I must say that we were particularly blessed to have a guide like Thea, who has lived in the Holy Land for over twenty years and has a phenomenal grasp of the history of the land and a love for its people, all of which enhanced our understanding and love for the Holy Land. Our bus driver on the pilgrimage was Perro, who made difficult driving a fine art and was always in good humour. Fr. Francis, thank you for the joy and humour you brought to our group. Thank you Spiritours and my fellow pilgrims, what an awesome group you were!!
I am already looking forward to my next visit to the Holy land and possibly leading a group there in the near future.
Deacon Brian Cordeiro
Holy Land with Robert Lebel