Religious tourism boosts Jalisco State’s economy in a post-pandemic era

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Religious tourism managed to recover the levels it had before the pandemic and this year it hopes to rebound.

Mexico is the second most important international destination in this area, only behind Italy. And in the country,  Jalisco ranks second in this area, only behind Mexico City.

There are three sanctuaries most visited by national and foreign tourists in Jalisco. The Cathedral of the Virgin of San Juan de los Lagos (which receives seven million pilgrims throughout the year), the Basilica of the Virgin of Zapopan (mobilizes two million faithful on October 12 alone), and the sanctuary of the Virgin of Talpa (visited by more than two million faithful each year). 

In addition to these three sanctuaries, there are others that attract religious tourism and are a source of economic benefits. These are patron saint festivities in the different municipalities that last from nine to 15 days, generating economic activity in the hotel industry, restaurants, and other local services.

José Luis Íñiguez Gámez, former director of Religious Tourism of the State Government’s Secretary of Tourism, explains that this sector represents an important economic benefit for the municipalities. “In 90% of the municipalities, the patron saint festivities are the main reason for their tourist attraction and that attracts all the tourists and absent children, which generates a significant economic benefit,” Iñiguez said.

They criticize the disappearance of the Directorate of Religious Tourism

Despite the importance of religious tourism, the Ministry of Tourism of the Government of Jalisco disappeared from the direction that was in charge of this area.

The Religious Tourism Directorate was erased from the map as of 2022 and since then the work of this area has been integrated into the Regional Tourism Directorate.

“Due to the nature in the State where we are, there is a great wealth of religious tourism… in addition, it is a source of important economic benefits that benefits many municipalities of Jalisco because they all have religious manifestations,” said José Luis Íñiguez Gámez, who was Director of Religious Tourism in the first three years of the state administration.

Initially, this department had a budget of seven million pesos, which was mainly used for municipal signage.

“It was decided to remove that area and, from my point of view, I think it was very noble because it also had a lot of participation,” laments José Luis Iñiguez.

He explains, for example, that when improvement works were carried out in the municipalities, the State Government contributed one part and the other benefited municipalities.

“That is why it is very important that the Government resume this direction because although we cannot transgress or respect the secular State, they are manifestations of a historical, cultural, and religious nature that generate a lot of economic benefits, hopefully, the next administration will resume it because for the municipalities are their main source of income and they look forward to their patron saint festival”.

Some data on Religious Tourism in Mexico

  • Second place is Mexico in religious tourism worldwide. Italy is number 1.
  • 30 million people visit the churches, cathedrals, and convents each year in Mexico.
  • 11 million pilgrims arrive in Jalisco each year and leave an economic spill of 330 million dollars a year.

Source: Miguel Palomar y Vizcarra Foundation.

The Guadalajara Post