A religious tourism package that allows travellers to gain an in-depth knowledge of Islam is being offered in Turkey.
While the title of the package, ‘Muslim for a Month,’ could possibly be viewed with cynicism by the religion’s devout followers, the package is nevertheless an attempt to provide visitors with a detailed insight into Islam, especially in its moderate and tolerant form.
The tours are the brainchild of Ben Bowler, who runs cultural exchange programmes and intends to take travellers, especially non-Muslims from around the world, to Turkish mosques and homes to experience Islam firsthand. Bowler said that the tourism initiative would allow people to be exposed to the virtues of Islam, a religion that has been the recipient of much negative attention.
Bowler, who has been conducting the tours for some time, said that people’s attitudes are altered once they learn about the religion in detail. He said, ‘People are very visibly moved. There are lots of tears. It’s a rich, multi-layered experience and people are coming out with changed ideas and changed perceptions-they are more aware of the positive side of the religion than before.’
Bowler said that the title of the tour programme was considered to be rather provocative by some, but he added that Muslims have been showing support because of its good intentions. He said, ‘It’s a provocative title, ‘Muslim for a Month,’ so we were bracing ourselves for criticism. There has been a little of that – Being a Muslim is for life, not just a month.’
The programme is being offered by Bowler’s NGO World Weavers. Tour participants are taught the basics of Islamic practice. They study Islamic history and calligraphy, and are allowed to pray in mosques and live and eat with Muslim families. Tourists will also have to undergo a day of fasting. The travel package is for 10 or 21 days, and travellers are put up in a 400-year-old Sufi lodge in Istanbul’s Eyup district. They will also visit the ancient city of Konya to visit the tomb of Sufi mystic, Rumi, and learn his teachings.
Travelmatch are expecting the summer of 2011 to see many British tourists venture to Turkey. Sales figures from the online travel specialists have shown a significant increase in interest in trips to Lara Beach, Marmaris and other seaside resorts in Turkey. The country is known for these excellent spots as well as Istanbul, an enchanting and very popular city steeped in history.
According to travelmatch.co.uk this surge owes to several factors. Airlines have opened new routes to seaside resorts making it convenient and affordable for British tourists to plan their holidays there. The country has also received notable acclaim of late with its capital city of Istanbul drawing praise from many observers thanks to its gorgeous buildings and superb cultural attractions. Recently it was listed by TripAdvisor as one of the top ten cities in Europe in its 2011 Traveller’s Choice Destination Awards.
The country has also proved popular with people looking for holiday homes. Recent figures have shown that foreign investment in Turkish real estate increased by 40% in 2010.
Alex Francis of Travelmatch comments on the high demand for holidays to Turkey: “Every year one country proves to be especially popular, and early figures indicate that the summer of 2011 will be all about Turkey. This in part owes to structural factors such as the greater availability of flights to resort areas, but there is no denying this country’s unique appeal. Resorts like Lara Beach feature some of the world’s best beaches and gorgeous hotels like the Delphin Diva, while Istanbul offers an amazing cultural experience. Turkey is truly an incredible destination and it is certainly deserving of its popularity.”
It has been revealed that discount deals to sunny destinations are attracting large numbers of holiday makers this Easter and the time around the Royal Wedding. With Turkey and Portugal proving most popular.
Research conducted by leading online travel agent On the Beach reveals that thousands of Brits will be heading on budget holidays to sunnier climes this Easter with many more sun worshipers jetting off for the Royal Wedding.
The Portuguese Algarve coast is proving to be one of the most popular destinations amongst holidaymakers, with bookings over the Easter period up more than 90% on the same time last year. Malta is also a popular destination this Easter with sales up 22% on the previous year.
Malaga, Turkey and the Greek Island of Rhodes make up the top five most popular destinations this holiday period.
Uncertainty surrounding Portugal’s economy has seen many airlines and hoteliers offering discounted deals in order to attract British holidaymakers to its resorts. Keen to take advantage of the deals, On the Beach has witnessed a huge rise in bookings with customers snapping up deals with prices up to 28% cheaper than Easter 2010.
During Easter and the Royal Wedding weekend, bargain holidays to Turkey are also being snapped up with the average price of a holiday up to 40% cheaper than last year.
Alistair Daly, Marketing Director at On the Beach said, “There are many great deals to be had with Portugal offering the greatest savings over the Easter holiday and Royal Wedding period. Our latest sales figures show that British holidaymakers are keen to take advantage of the extra bank holiday given this year and many will be watching the happy couple tie the knot while relaxing in a sunny beach destination.”