Growing interest in religion boosting China's religion-related tourism market

Beijing, Nov 19(ANI): A growing interest in religion is helping boost religious tourism in China, where about 130,000 religious sites have been turned into tourist attractions.

According to Yang Fenggang, a professor who heads the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Indiana's Purdue University, religious places such as the Shaolin Temple are giving more people a chance to learn about the country's religion.

He believes that it has also helped China witness a significant growth in the income from the sector.

"A growing interest in religion among the Chinese has boosted the country's fledging religion-related tourism market over the past decade," the China Daily quoted Fenggang, as saying.

Citing the result of a Chinese spiritual life survey, conducted in 2007 by the Beijing-based Horizon Research Consultancy Group, Fenggang said that religious tourism is also gaining popularity amongst domestic tourists.

"Now, about 85 percent of the people in China hold some religious belief or practice some kind of religion," Fenggang said.

Yang Haiyun, who became a Buddhist in the late 1980s, confirmed the notion saying that he tries to visit at least two sacred sites of Buddhism each year.

"I enjoy staying in temples for several days from time to time, so I can study Buddhist scripture, meditate and learn from other pilgrims from all walks of life," Haiyun said.

"These short stays give me peace of mind and better tolerance toward the harsh realities and difficulties of our fast-paced lives," she added.

According to Li Xiangping, a professor who heads the religious culture research center at East China Normal University, the annual revenue of the famous Buddhist Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou city was about 70 million yuan in 2001.

He claims that the temple's revenue now might have surpassed a billion yuan. (ANI)

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