Travel

On our Way Guadalupe…

by Steve Ray on August 28, 2015

A lot of our pilgrims have asked us about Guadalupe as a pilgrimage destination. Janet and I are on our way down now to investigate hotels, agents and guides, restaurants and sites.

We are going to make this pilgrimage
more than just a few days at Guadalupe. We’re also going to include some wonderful cultural things and trips out into the mountains to visit the local people and their colorful celebrations, devote Catholic Faith, along with gorgeous shrines and churches.

Stay tuned for videos and updates. To see our current pilgrimages visit www.FootprintsOfGod.com.

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Since we, and our thousands of pilgrims, travel to Israel many times a year, I thought these statistics were very interesting. Of all 3.3 million in 2014 not one was hurt or in danger. The media makes it sound like Israel is dangerous. The facts and statistics on the group prove they are wrong.

We are now on a flight from Tel Aviv back home to the US. We had a wonderful “Christmas Pilgrimage” and went home with tears of joy and sadness about leaving. We also had our daughter Charlotte and her husband Wes. It was a perfect pilgrimage and everyone laughed at those who told them it would be dangerous. We had a marvelous time.

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Despite Operation Protective Edge, the number of tourists in 2014 remains similar to that in 2013, thanks to the significant increase in the first half of 2013. (Communicated by the Ministry of Tourism/ Ministry of Tourism Statistics Department) 

  • Leading source countries for incoming tourism: USA, Russia, France and Germany
  • 56% of incoming tourists were Christian
  • Tourism’s contribution to the economy: about NIS 41 billion
  • Satisfaction levels range from very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5)

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: “This year, despite Operation Protective Edge, we succeeded in maintaining the same number of tourists and hotel overnights, mainly as a result of the Israeli response to the “Vacation in Israel Now” campaign in the midst of the Operation. Israeli vacationers filled the hotels in the peak season of August, thereby supporting businesses in outlying areas and the Israeli economy…”

 Ministry of Tourism Director General Amir Halevi: “This year, we put our emphasis on digital marketing aimed at independent travelers (FITs), who are keen to exploit the prices from the open skies policy and are ready to enjoy the city breaks we have on offer – to run marathons in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee, to cycle in the Negev, to enjoy opera at Masada and in Akko, and to have fun in Tel Aviv.”

Tourism by mode of travel

 Out of 3.3 million visitors, 2.5 million arrived by air (78%), a decrease of 2% compared to 2013. About 400,000 came through the land borders (12%), a 5% increase compared to 2013.

 Tourism by country of origin 

 As in previous years, tourism from the USA continued to represent the largest country of origin for incoming tourism to Israel, with 626,000 visitors arriving in 2014, (representing 19% of all incoming tourism), 1% more than 2013. In second place is tourism from Russia with 567,000 visitors, a decrease of 6%. Tourism from France takes third place, with about 301,000 visitors, followed by Germany (196,000) and the United Kingdom (179,000).

 Tourism to Israel: characteristics

  • 56% of incoming tourism was Christian tourism (41% of which is Catholic, 26% Protestant and 22% Russian Orthodox), 24% Jewish tourism, with the remaining of other religious denominations or non affiliated.
  • 58% of tourists were first time visitors, and 42% returning visitors.
  • 21% defined their visit as part of a pilgrimage, 26% as tour and travel, 11% as vacation and leisure. Overall, 58% defined their visit for tourism purposes, 23% visited friends or relatives and 11% came for business or to attend conventions.
  • 27% came as part of an organized tour, 10% on a package deal, and 63% came as FITs (frequent individual tourists).
  • 64% of tourists stayed in hotels, 22% stayed with friends or relatives and 5% stayed in youth hostels, 1% stayed in religious hostels. 6% stayed in rented or owned apartments. 

Cities and sites visited

 Jerusalem is the city most visited by incoming tourists in Israel, (82% of all tourists). Tel Aviv-Jaffa holds second place with 67% of all tourists having visited and in third place, the Dead Sea area with 54%. Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee holds fourth place with 38% of all tourists followed by the Galilee area with 34%.

The most visited sites in 2014 include the Western Wall (74%), the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem (68%), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (59%) and the Via Dolorosa (53%) and the Mount of Olives (52%).

 Tourist satisfaction

The satisfaction level of tourists visiting Israel in 2013 was very good to excellent (4.3 out of 5 – excellent). Services that received a high rating included: archeological sites (4.5); tour guides and organized tours (4.4); personal security (4.3). Among those services which did not rate so highly: public bathrooms (3.5),  taxis (3.4), and value for money (3.1). 

 Tourism’s contribution to the Israeli economy

 Total revenue from tourism in 2014 is estimated at about NIS 41 billion, a slight decrease on 2013. 

 The number of employees in the Israeli economy as a result of tourism activities totals about 110,000 in 2014, approximately one third of whom are employed in hotels. The total number of employees in the tourism industry (direct and indirect) stands at about 200,000, 6% of all employees in Israel.

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Steve with son-in-law Wesley Sorrill

We are in Israel with my daughter Charlotte, her husband Wesley and my wife Janet. We are picking up our bus full of people tomorrow at the Tel Aviv airport. We are looking forward to a wonderful pilgrimage through the land of Our Lord.

We arrived a day before our group so my son-in-law and I decided to take an adventure from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and back. Yesterday was Christmas and here in the Land it will be Christmas until January 6.

Entering Church of Nativity in Bethlehem

So we started our run and bike ride from the birthplace of Christ to the place where he was crucified, buried and rose again. We had a great time together getting good exercise as we explored the land of the Bible.

We all hope you enjoy this video and it again reminds you of the truth of the Catholic Faith. It is rooted in history and is true with a capital T.

Merry Christmas from Bethlehem! 

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“11 Must-see Churches in Rome” Steve Ray quoted in Fox News Article

October 24, 2014

Since we leave for Rome today to pick up our 80 pilgrims for a pilgrimage through Italy, Greece and Turkey, I thought I would post this article so you can see some of the churches we will visit.  Here is the portion of the article in which I contributed. Teresa Tomeo also shares her favorite [...]

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Dangerous Camels and the Mess they Leave Behind

July 7, 2014

Dangerous living the Bible in the lands of the Bible. This is a fun 30-second video of me messing with the camel in Haran Turkey where Abraham lived for a while before leaving for Canaan. It is also where Isaac got his wife Rebekah and where Jacob lived for twenty years. They all had camels [...]

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One Thing I Know About Abraham: He was Sweaty all the Time!

June 15, 2014

We flew from Israel to Istanbul and then from Istanbul Urfa. We then boarded the van for the one hour drive to Haran. It was 100° and the van didn’t have air-conditioning or windows that opened. It was a stifling trip but paid off with what we found.  Haran is mentioned 19 times in the [...]

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Here is a YouTube Video of my Show with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN

May 24, 2014

I sure hated the suit and tie – first time in a decade I put those things on, but other than that it was fun. It was a last minute thing. They said, “Quick, get a flight, we have a hotel, take a taxi to the NBC studios in Washington DC and be there by [...]

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My Bike Ride from Tiberias to Magdala along the Shore of Galilee

May 8, 2014

Our group just arrived in Galilee and I jumped on my bike and took off for exercise and adventure. The Legionaries are building a “Spirituality Center”, whatever that is, at Magdala so I am off to check it out. I’ve been told they built a Protestant chapel there so I have to see this with [...]

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11 Must See Churches in Rome: Steve Ray and Teresa Tomeo Interveiwed by Fox News Travel

May 6, 2014

Here are a list of great churches to see in Rome that are usually off the radar screen. Murals of torture and martyrdom, tombs of the Apostolic Fathers and much more. Enjoy the article at http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/04/24/11-must-see-churches-in-rome/

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Great Start for Canonization Pilgrimage

April 25, 2014

Rome is packed with people! Buses are pouring in from every direction. I think the educated estimate is there will be 2 million people here for the canonization on Sunday. Our group arrived this morning and everyone is in good spirits and excited. We had a great start for the day with Mass at St. [...]

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Video of Pre-Canonization Rome

April 23, 2014

Janet and I arrived a few days early in Rome before our group. There will be 63 pilgrims arriving on Friday. We like to make sure everything is in order and ready for their arrival. And it is! We decided to take a walk around the walls of the Vatican and get a feel for [...]

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There and Back Again, Again, Again…

March 2, 2014

Thousands of people, dozens of airplanes, and just a few short weeks. Now begins the most vigorous speaking season of my year. Will I be in a city near you? March 1 Edmund Oklahoma, Catholic Fellowship of Men Mar 2-4 Chickasha Oklahoma, Holy Name Parish Mission March 8 Corpus Christi Texas, Fullness of Truth Conference [...]

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Mass with the Local Christians in Jerusalem

January 26, 2014

Wonder what it is like to join the local Christians for Sunday morning Mass in the Holy Land? Well, now you will know. As is our pleasurable habit, Janet and I arrive a little ahead of our pilgrimage group to make sure everything is set and ready for their arrival.  Today we joined the local [...]

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Ziggurat of Abraham in Ur (Naziriyah Iraq)

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a short video clip so you can get an idea of the Ziggurat. I also added a few pictures. Great day shooting footage for the Abraham movie with brick makers, the temple that Abraham saw with his own eyes, and a lot more. Your browser does not support the video tag

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In Israel, Heading to Iraq and Turkey: Preparing to Shoot New Movie on Abraham

January 4, 2014

Janet and I have been in Israel the last 10 days working on the script for our new Footprints of God DVD on Abraham. It will be entitled “Abraham, Father of Faith and Works.” Besides writing we have been driving around Israel and the Palestinian areas to review all of the places related to Abraham, [...]

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Steve in Corinth: Why We Know the Bible is True; Talk at the Erastus Stone

December 9, 2013

This is one of those moments when I love taking excited Catholics to biblical lands. Last month we went to the sites of St. Paul around the Mediterranean. One of my favorite sites is the Erastus Stone off the beaten track at Ancient Corinth. Here is my 10-minute spontaneous talk about the truth of the [...]

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