September 17, 2008

More than 50 Travel Industry Leaders on World Religious Travel Expo Line-Up

WRTA announces speakers and seminars for faith tourism’s first major international gathering

LITTLETON, Colorado (Sept 17, 2008) – More than 50 top travel executives and tourism officials from around the globe will address participants at the World Religious Travel Expo and Educational Conference, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Orlando.

“We are honored to present such a wide-ranging group of authorities at this fall’s Expo, which we believe will be a pivotal event in this ‘new era’ of faith tourism,” said Kevin J. Wright, president of the World Religious Travel Association. “The Expo delegates will acquire key marketing intelligence and cutting edge sales strategies, as well as innovative product development ideas in the areas of pilgrimage, cruising, missions, leisure travel, adventure trips, faith-based safaris, volunteer vacations, and much more.”

Keynote speakers include:
• Maurice Zarmati, President, Costa Cruise Lines
• Steve Born, Vice President, Globus Family of Brands
• His Excellency Senator Akel E. Biltaji, Ambassador-at-Large and Chairman of the Tourism Committee, Upper House of Parliament, Jordan
• The Honorable Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

The Educational Seminars and panelists at this first major international gathering of the $18 billion worldwide religious travel industry include:

Boardroom Insider: Current and future trends for faith tourism
Adam Leavitt, Vice President, Trafalgar Tours
Cherie Weinstein, Carnival Cruise Lines, Vice President – Groups Sales and Administration
Linville Johnson, Director of Religious Market, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
Malia Asfour, Director, Jordan Tourism Board of North America
Jim Buddendorf, President, MTS Travel
Mike Cappodanno, Director, Switzerland Tourism
Tasoula Manaridis, Director North America, Cyprus Tourism
Honnie Korngold, President, Christian Travel Finder

Pilgrimages: What does today's faith traveler want?
Nick Mancino, Vice President, Group IST (Journeys Unlimited and Regina Tours)
Bob Faucett, Vice President, Unitours
Milanka M. Lachman, President, 206 Tours
Fuad Kattan, President, ACA Travel & Tourism (Bethlehem)
George Keenan, President, Rainbow Tour Turkey

Faith Cruising: Discover the number one vacation trend in today's religious market
Cherie Weinstein, Vice President – Groups Sales and Administration, Carnival Cruise Lines
Andy Christo, Vice President, Monarch Classic Cruises
Stacy Shaw, Director - Charter Sales, Royal Caribbean
Paul Holevas, President, Steps of Paul Coastal Cruises

How to build your faith travel program through mission trips & volunteer vacations
Jim Buddendorf, President, MTS Travel
Timothy Childs, Vice President, Raptim Travel
Bo McComas, President, World Mission Tours
Fran Lessans, President & CEO, Passport Health

How to promote the holy Land as a travel provider & group planner
Malia Asfour, Director, Jordan Tourism Board of North America
Arie Sommer, Commissioner North & South America, Israel Ministry of Tourism
Tasoula Manaridis, Director, Cyprus Tourism
ElSayed M. Khalifa, Consul-Director USA and Latin America, Egyptian Tourist Authority
George Tambakis, Director USA and Canada, Greek National Tourism Organization

Why we're expanding our religious market focus...and why you should too
Jim Kelly, Vice President, CIE Tours
John Klados, Vice President, Homeric Tours
Steven Ferry, National Group Sales Manager, Trafalgar Tours
Bryan Earley, National Group Sales Manager, Globus

Promoting new travel experiences for churches & religious groups
Jacob Kimbro, Manager New Business Development, Disney on Broadway
Judy Mizrachi, President, Women Walkers Travel
Dorothy Nasozi, Manager Director, Nissi Holidays (Uganda)
David Kizito, Managing Director, Cordial Tours and Travel (Tanzania)

Industry perspectives: How we are meeting the demands, growth & impact of faith tourism
Bob Hoelscher, President, National Tour Association (NTA)
Patti Free, Vice President, CCRA International

Marketing effectively and profitably to the faith tourism marketplace
James E. Wright, Vice President Marketing, World Religious Travel Association
Torre Ossmo, Vice President, Faithful Holidays (Mayflower Tours)
Metin Kazan, President, 7TUR
Ron Hermanson, Franchise Owner, SeaMaster Cruises
Colleen Roberts, National Account Manager, American Church Lists

PR & Advertising: Effectively engage the media to reach faith-based audiences
Christine Moore, President, Epiphany Media
Jeff Gayduk, President, Premier Tourism Marketing
Brian Jewell, Editor, Going on Faith
Raj Dayal, Managing Editor, Church Executive/Christian Travel & Cruise Guide

Product Development: How to develop a winning faith-based travel portfolio
Kevin J. Wright: World Religious Travel Association, President
Cindy Brodhecker: Faith Travel Development & Consulting, President

The WRTA Expo will feature two venues: The International Tradeshow and The Educational Conference. The combined event provides a one-stop opportunity for networking with more than 500 travel wholesalers, suppliers, destinations, agents and church travel planners to develop partnerships, develop new products and services, generate qualified leads and build long-term relationships.

The Expo will be held Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2008 at the Gaylord Palms Resort Hotel & Convention Center in Orlando. The complete schedule is available at

About the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA)
The World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) is the leading network for shaping, enriching, and expanding the $18 billion global faith tourism industry. WRTA exists to bring the travel trade and religious consumer together for the primary purpose of promoting and providing quality faith travel experiences around the globe. As the source and voice for the religious travel industry, WRTA provides its members opportunities to network, learn, contribute, and lead. WRTA embraces all segments of faith tourism: Pilgrimages, Leisure, Cruises, Events/Conventions, Missions, Retreats, Attractions, Family, Student/Youth, Adventure and Volunteer Vacations. To learn more about WRTA or to become a member, visit or contact WRTA at 1-800-657-1288 or 360-778-3047. To attend or exhibit at the World Religious Travel Expo, register online at