1st International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages



Krakow, Poland

Organized By

Ernesto Travel

Type of institution

Private Sector



Specific site/destination



Cultural values, diversity and heritage

Lines of actions

Knowledge creation and dissemination

Type of activity

Events, meetings and conferences

Estimated outreach/impact of your activity


Target group

General public

Dear Colleagues!

The 1st International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages “Following the footsteps of Saint John Paul II” has come to a successful end last Sunday, November 12th, 2017.
It was supported by His Em. Card. Stanislaw Dziwisz, His Em. Abp Marek Jędraszewski and the director of the Polish Tourist Organisation. This event, unique for Central and Eastern Europe, attracted almost 200 tourism professionals, travel agents, touroperators who work in the Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages Sector, from more than 30 countries. The highest numbers represented the Spanish, followed by the Italian, but some more distant countries attended, too. Let us mention Japan, Malaysia, Paraguay, Argentina, USA, Canada, Israel and many other countries (mostly European).
We received many positive comments during and after the Congress. They expressed satisfaction and gratitude to the organisers of this event, stressed the professionalism, talked about the possibilities that the tourist and religious attractions of Krakow and Malopolska (Krakow Region) have to offer. Only during the Congress, some 30 groups were booked for the coming year; we are all aware that the success of this event will be long-lasting.
The aim of the Congress was to promote Krakow and Krakow region as an important religious tourism destination worldwide and to prove the importance of the religious tourism within the global tourism industry.
The Congress was inaugurated on the November 9th, at the Saint John Paul II Center in Krakow, by the Krakow City authorities and the representatives of Krakow Archdiocese.
The opening Holy Mass was celebrated by Bp Tadeusz Pieronek and 11 priests, participants of the Congress.
The morning was dedicated to speeches, lectures, presentations and meetings with the representatives of 23 different places and companies: sanctuaries, tourist places.
The following days – 10th and 11th November were spent visiting Krakow (the Old Town, John Paul II Centre, Divine Mercy Shrine) and Malopolska Region (Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz Concentration Camp Memorial in Oswiecim, John Paul II Family Home Museum in Wadowice, the Sanctuaries of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and Czestochowa – the Black Madonna).
The Partners of the Congress all involved for the success of the Congress: the Municipality of Krakow, Malopolska Voivodeship (Region), Malopolska Tourist Organisation, Wieliczka Salt Mine, John Paul II Family Home, John Paul II Centre “Have No Fear”, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, the Pastoral House of the Divine Mercy Shrine in Łagiewniki, Krakow.
The Congress was organised in cooperation with the hotels: Park Inn, Galaxy, Plus Q, INX Design, Vienna House Easy Chopin from Krakow, Mercure and Ib1st is – DeSilva hotels in Czestochowa, Imperiale Hotel in Oswiecim (Auschwitz), as well as restaurants: St Faustina Home, Pastoral House at Łagiewniki, Morskie Oko and Biała Róża in Krakow, coach companies Manifold and Luca Tour.
The Congress was sponsored by Signal Iduna, Bank PeKaO SA, Restaurant Wierzynek.
The media partners included Rynek Turystyczny, Wiadomosci Turystyczne, Tur-Info, Central de Receptivos, Viagens da Fé, ObiektySakralne.pl and some European editors who sent their reporters.
You can see the full list of the expositors at: http://icortap.com/pl/expo-sellers
The Congress was visited by the representatives of Fátima and San Giovanni Rotondo.
Visit our website: www.icortap.com


Photos of the event

The first International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages “Following the footsteps of Pope John Paul II” will be held in Krakow on 8-12 November 2017 , to which the President of Krakow, Professor Jacek Majchrowski, invites you. The City of Krakow is the official sponsor of the Congress, in which Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz will also actively participate. In addition, the Congress is sponsored by Jacek Krupa, the president of the Voivodship of Lesser Poland. We will inform you about the other associates and honorary sponsorships as there will surely be more.

Krakow and the Lesser Poland region have enormous potential for developing religious tourism and pilgrimage. Each year they are visited by millions of pilgrims and religious tourists, as during the days of the last edition of WYD, organized in Cracow in 2016. All this benefits the city, the country and creates new jobs.

“We see the need to promote a new event in Krakow: a meeting of professionals and specialists in the area of ​​religious tourism and pilgrimage” – says the organizer of the Congress, Ernest Miroslaw, the head of a local tour operator, Ernesto Travel, leader in Religious tourism and pilgrimage. “I believe that this will be a good prelude to the UNWTO conference planned for 2018 in Krakow, dedicated to religious tourism. We have been participating in conferences and conferences of this kind for years. And on this occasion we are inviting Krakow and the Lesser Poland region to a group of around a hundred specialists, tour operators, collaborators, priests and other organizers of religious tourism and pilgrimage “- emphasizes Dominika Krzych Of Ernesto Travel, the initiator of the Congress.

The Congress will begin on 9 November by the secular and ecclesiastical powers of Krakow. First, at the John Paul II Center, the Mass will be celebrated, followed by opening speeches and presentations, and the workshop with representatives of sanctuaries, places of worship and tourism. On November 10 and 11 guests from all over the world will visit Krakow and Lesser Poland (the Old Town in Krakow, the John Paul II Center in Cracow c / Totus Tuus 32, the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Lagiewniki, the mines Salt in Wieliczka, the former Nazi German concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the parish and the Holy Father’s home in Wadowice, the Basilica in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska and the Black Madonna sanctuary in Czestochowa, which although according to administrative criteria does not belong to Lesser Poland, however, is the most important pilgrimage center in Poland and can not be omitted during the tour of our region).

The objectives of the Congress are the exchange of business contacts between participants, the promotion of Krakow and Lesser Poland as a destination for religious tourism and pilgrimage in the international area, and the consolidation of the importance of religious tourism in the context of Global tourism industry.
Representatives of foreign travel agencies and tour operators, bloggers and journalists, bishops and priests, and other organizers of religious tourism and pilgrimage, such as diocesan coordinators, heads of foundations and congregations, are invited to participate.

More information can be found on the Congress website: www.ICoRTaP.com (International Congress of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimages).
Thank you very much if you can send this information to your friends and colleagues.
See you in Krakow!


8.11, Wed Day 1. Arrivals to Krakow
9.11, Thu Day 2. Krakow – Lagiewniki – Krakow
7.00 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
8.00 Transfer to the John Paul II Center.
9.00 Holy Mass with Krakow Church authorities, at the Sanctuary of Saint John Paul II in Krakow, Totus Tuus 32 street.
10.00 Congress opening ceremony – His Eminence Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary of Saint John Paul II.
10.15 Congress opening ceremony – prof. Jacek Majchrowski, the President of Krakow.
10.30 Congress opening ceremony – Witold Banka, Minister of Sport and Tourism.
10.45 World Youth Day – preparation, performance, impact on the city – a Town Hall representative’s speech.
11.15 The religious tourism and pilgrimages in Krakow and Poland – a speech by Ernest Mirosław, the director of Ernesto Travel – the leading incoming tour operator in Poland.
12.00 Expo fair session – an opportunity to meet the local attractions representatives: santuaries, local tourism offices, places of interest.
14.00 Lunch.
15.00 Visit of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary. „the Divine Mercy will save the World!”. In a place where Faustina Kowalska spent a part of her life, next to the convent, a sanctuary was built. It now houses the famous picture „Jesus, I trust in you” and also the relics of St Faustina Kowalska. The sanctuary was founded by John Paul II and is nowadays amongst the most important sanctuaries in Poland and Europe.
16.30 Visit of Krakow with a local guide. The old capital of the Polish Kingdom, one of the Europe’s biggest empires in the Middle Ages: we will walk up the Wawel Hill to see the Royal Castle and the Cathedral – the place of coronation and last resting of many Polish kings. Also here, in the Roman Cript of Saint Leonard, Fr. Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first holy mass on the 2nd November 1946. We will continue to the Old Town with its lively Main Market Square Rynek – the biggest medieval market square in Europe, embellished by many monuments, including the Cloth Hall Sukiennice and the Saint Mary Church with its fine wooden altar carved by the medieval master, Wit Stwosz. We will continue to places related with Fr. Wojtyla, Franciscan Church with a bench where he used to pray and the nearby Papal Window where he used to talk with the youth who gathered below, during his pilgrimages to Poland. Krakow Old Town was declared the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978.
20.00 Dinner with a klezmer music concert. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Krakow.
10.11, Fri Day 3. Krakow – Auschwitz-Birkenau – Wieliczka – Krakow
6.30 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
7.00 Transfer to Oswiecim (Auschwitz in German).
8.30 Guided tour at the former German Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. The camp was built by Nazis during the German occupation of Poland. More than a million people from different nationalities were killed in this place, the majority of Jewish origin. Today this place is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
11.30 Transfer to Wieliczka.
13.30 Lunch.
15.00 We visit Wieliczka to see the oldest salt mine in Europe. Wieliczka is a unique place where many generations of Polish miners have created an underground world of tunnels and underground salt lakes with a rich interior of decorated chapels including the famous Blessed Kings Chapel, plus other galleries and works made of salt. Wieliczka is one the most beautiful places listed by UNESCO in Poland.
20.00 Gala dinner in the Cloth Hall – invited by the President Prof. Jacek Majchrowski. Overnight in Krakow.
11.11, Sat Day 4. Krakow – Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – Wadowice – Czestochowa – Krakow
7.00 Buffet breakfast at the hotel.
7.30 Transfer to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
9.00 Visit at the Bernardine Monastery in Kalwaria, the 3rd most famous shrine in Poland. The whole Mannerist complex (including the sanctuary and a park) is also listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Karol Wojtyla would visit this place since his childhood, keeped coming even as a Pope.
10.30 Visit to the Parish church of Wadowice where Karol Wojtyla was baptised. Continue to the museum of John Paul II, recently renovated and reopened, a place that tells the story of the Greatest of the Poles, from his early years in small multicultural town of Wadowice until his last days as a bishop of Rome.
12.30 Lunch.
14.00 Transfer to Czestochowa.
16.00 The sanctuary of Black Madonna with its famous painting (said to be the work of St John) is a symbolic place for all the Poles. Along many, sometimes difficult, centuries of the Polish country, the Polish arrived and still arrive here to ask for help of the Blessed Virgin. The Mother of God was pronounced the Queen of Poland by the King John Casimirus in the 17th century. It is one of the main European pilgrimage destinations, receiving between 3 and 4 million of pilgrims every year. The Sanctuary is also a fortress, an interesting architectural complex.
18.00 Return to Krakow.
20.00 Dinner with a show of Polish folclore. Return to the hotel. Overnight in Krakow.
12.11, Sun Day 5. The departures morning Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Check out.

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