Select International Tours https://selectinternationaltours.com We Share Your Faith Fri, 06 Dec 2019 22:49:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.12 https://selectinternationaltours.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/cropped-Select-Logo-FB-32x32.jpg Select International Tours https://selectinternationaltours.com 32 32 Is it Safe: Traveling to and from the Holy Land https://selectinternationaltours.com/some-things-you-should-know-traveling-to-and-from-the-holy-land/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/some-things-you-should-know-traveling-to-and-from-the-holy-land/#respond Mon, 16 Sep 2019 14:13:36 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=16153 Anticipation

“Oh, please be careful. It’s so dangerous over there.”

I knew my friend meant well, but her words were not comforting. I was only a few days away from departing for the Holy Land and my nerves were already raw from packing, checking flights, reading weather reports, finding someone to care for my cat, and scheduling a ride to the airport.

This is the place where the Angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would carry Jesus.

The Church of the Visitation

I had dreamed about visiting the places where Jesus walked since High School. That dream was jaded by year upon year of news reports featuring skirmishes and wars in and around Israel. The picture the media had painted was unnerving. I wanted to be excited, but in all honesty, I was a little scared and my friend’s words were not helping.

A family-member drove me to the airport, warning me on the way to, “please be careful.” Was I making a mistake? Was I putting myself in harm’s way? I am normally very excited to get on a plane, but all these warnings made me very anxious.

I flew through Toronto on my way to Tel Aviv. The first flight was uneventful, and I arrived with plenty of time to make my connection. I found my next gate on the monitor and headed there to wait for boarding. When I arrived, there was an additional security checkpoint…only for our gate. I had never experienced this before. I waited in the line and reached the guard who examined my passport and boarding pass and asked me a few questions. He directed me to yet another bag check.

Jamal and Hani made sure I was well fed.

Jamal and Hani made sure I was well fed.

My mind raced. Why is there so much security? Is there a threat? Is something wrong? Should I walk away from this flight? The questions echoed in my head as I eyed every passenger waiting for the flight. With each reverberation, I heard the words of my loved ones, “Please, be careful.” It was only through the grace of Our Lord that I boarded that flight. My mind was working overtime to convince my body to abandon it.

The Truth

If you have never traveled to Israel, I imagine you are facing the same fears that I did. I imagine that the news, friends, and family are warning you to, “please be safe,” as well. Most of all, I imagine that you are asking the same question that I did; “Is this trip even worth the risk?”

Let me put your mind at ease. Yes, it is worth the risk. And, perhaps more importantly, the “risk” is unjustly amplified. I have never traveled anywhere in the world where I felt safer than the Holy Land. Now that I have traveled there and back, I would return in a heartbeat! But I did learn a lot along the way that might help you feel a little more prepared for your trip.

Additional Security

I learned that additional security is normal for Israel. In fact, the security in place while boarding a flight is only the beginning. There are special restrictions to stay in your seats while in Israeli air-space. There are multiple security stops in the immigration and customs line. And, while traveling through the country, there are random security checkpoints on roads and at Palestinian Territory borders.

It was initially unnerving to answer questions of a security officer dressed in military fatigues and holding a weapon, but, in my experience, they were always pleasant and calm. They asked simple questions, checked my passport, then sent me on my way.

Church of the Multiplication

Church of the Multiplication

Crime and Common Precautions

Crime rates, in most cases, are significantly lower in Israel than the USA*. Violent crime is significantly less common. Still, this doesn’t mean you should be naïve. Petty theft from pickpockets and burglaries at tourist hotels still happen. So, take the same precautions you would take when traveling to any major city: use the hotel safe, carry a secure backpack or purse, and keep all your belongings on you.

When you stop to rest, eat, or sightsee, keep your belongings attached to your person or on your lap. Don’t leave your bag on the ground or hanging on your chair. Additionally, ALWAYS carry your passport and leave a photocopy in the hotel safe.

Mentally Prepare

The political complexity of the Middle East requires additional patience from travelers. Mentally prepare yourself and expect to wait in security lines, answer questions about your travels, and show your passport. Pay attention to your guides’ instructions. They are familiar with the checkpoints and security requirements and their insight can significantly reduce the inconvenience. Security personnel are simply doing their job to keep everyone safe. A warm smile and friendly demeanor on your end will often be met with the same from them.

The Synagogue of Capharnaum

The Synagogue of Capharnaum

Upon Departure

Departing Israel from the airport is far different from most places in the world. There are multiple security checkpoints and it can take much longer than usual to get from the curb to your gate, so be patient and allow yourself plenty of time.

On my most recent trip, we were stopped in the car—before entering the airport—for twenty minutes. They checked my bag, asked me and the driver several questions, and checked my passport and flight documents. When entering the airport, I had to go through two security checkpoints before entering the bag check. At the second checkpoint, they asked me several questions then instructed me to one of four bag-check lines.

In Israel, they profile every traveler and send them to a specific line depending on their “reading” of the individual. Don’t let this frustrate you. It is just part of the trip. While standing in the bag-check line, you will be asked the same questions you were already asked several times. Again, a warm smile and friendly demeanor will serve you well. They will check your bag thoroughly…meaning they may remove every item and inspect it, x-ray it, chemically test it, or even ask you questions about it. The process takes significantly longer than a TSA check in the USA, so exercise patience.

On my most recent trip, I arrived at the airport 3 hours and fifteen minutes before my flight. After all the security checkpoints and bag-check, I arrived at my gate, ready to board, with forty minutes to spare. The whole process took two hours and thirty-five minutes.

Conclusion

Church of the Primacy of St. Peter

Church of the Primacy of St. Peter

After a long flight, I walked to the Immigration officer at Newark International Airport. She glanced at my passport and asked how long I had been in Israel. “Seven days,” I replied.

“Wow. Short trip. Welcome home.” She waved me through.

I found my friend waiting for me outside the bag check. “Well, how was it?” She asked.

“Great. Israel is nothing like I expected. I can’t wait to go back.” I said.

“Really?”

Yes, really. My trip was short, but life-changing. There really is no way to translate all that happened to me in the Holy Land. I know that I’ll never be the same after the trip. I can see the whole story of our faith so differently now. And when friends ask me if Israel was frightening to visit, I tell them, “It was, no big deal.” They think I’m an intrepid traveler, but really, I’m just being honest.

 

*According to nationmaster.com (accessed September 12, 2019)

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The Camino on New Knees with Michelle Lloyd https://selectinternationaltours.com/the-camino-on-new-knees-michelle-lloyd/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/the-camino-on-new-knees-michelle-lloyd/#respond Thu, 05 Sep 2019 21:24:07 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=15931 Michelle and Gus Lloyd walked the Camino de Santiago with a group of 26 pilgrims in August of 2019. If you have any doubt how much a pilgrimage like this can impact a person, we invite you to read Michelle’s letter to her Doctor. It is always wonderful to hear stories like this from group leaders and pilgrims on Select International trips.

September 5, 2019

 

Dear Dr. Lyons,

 

Hello! I hope this letter finds you well. I just wanted to reach out to you to share a recent adventure I was part of. First, a little back story. Last August, my husband, Gus was able to begin a bucket list trip with about 25 other people of walking the first half of the Camino de Santiago, a 480 mile walk that has many routes to get to the final destination of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Not sure if you are familiar with it, but about 10 years ago the movie “The Way” came out about it and there are many others as well, but if you are at all curious, I would recommend watching “I’ll Push You” as it is a very inspirational story of two friends who do the Camino together and one of them is a quadriplegic.

 

Gus and Michelle Lloyd Live on the Camino de SantiagoIn 2013, I came to see you and scheduled my first total knee replacement but I ended up cancelling the surgery because we decided to move and I didn’t have time to deal with it then. Funny fact, the night before that surgery was supposed to take place, I saw you at Lowe’s in Carrollwood in the carpet department. Eventually, my pain got so bad that I didn’t want to get up off the couch to do anything because it hurt so badly with each step I took, so I decided to look into stem cells procedures after a friend of mine shared a Facebook ad with me. I felt like I really got my confirmation to go forward with that at church the Sunday before I began the procedures when I heard this scripture from Hebrews 12: 12-13 for the first time that said. “So strengthen your drooping hands and week knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed, but HEALED”. Sounds like a confirmation, right?? So I did the procedures twice on both knees but I never found the relief that I need to have an active life. So my husband started hounding me and asking our friend who lives in Kansas that is also an Orthopedic Surgeon to talk to me to try and convince me to just go ahead and bite the bullet and do the surgery. Honestly, my husband was ticking me off but I know now that he just couldn’t stand seeing the person he loved be in so much pain anymore and just wanted to try to help me find the answer I needed to get my life back So, unbeknownst to him, I had made an appointment to see you and scheduled my first total knee replacement with you about ? weeks before Gus left for Spain last year. I was obviously not able to go with him. You did my second total knee replacement in December of 2018 and I was 8 months out from that surgery when it was time for Gus and his group to go back to Spain to finish the walk this year. I decided that I wanted to go, not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into, (in hindsight, that was probably better). Now, I have always been a person who would work out to videos to keep in shape but I was never a hiker or runner. This year’s journey began in Leon, Spain and ended in Santiago. We walked 8 stages to complete the mileage needed to finish the walk (an average of 15 miles per day). The terrain was very difficult, especially the first two days, filled with many mountain climbs and many boulder-filled paths going down for miles. I believe at the end of the 2nd day the grade of going up the mountain was 23 %. Can you say, out of breath? Each day proved to be a very strenuous walk where I felt it in some part of my body, if not everywhere, but I have to tell you, MY KNEES FELT GREAT THE WHOLE TIME! I guess, maybe because I actually had the youngest knees on the trip! If I had any issues, it was with my feet which is to be expected walking 15-17 miles per day but I also have Morton’s Neuroma in my right foot to deal with. As I began each day, I knew we were going to walk, but I didn’t know what journey would unfold before me that day until I actually experienced it, but the one thing that resonated with me throughout the whole trip was a sense of THANKFULNESS. Gus and Michelle Lloyd Select International Tour Camino de SantiagoTHANKFULNESS for the beautiful vistas I was able to see and walk through each day, THANKFULNESS for the people I was able to share this experience with, THANKFULNESS that I have a husband that has an adventurous spirit that he has shared with me, THANKFULNESS for the feeling that I actually feel like an athlete now, THANKFULNESS for all that I was able to accomplish each day, THANKFULNESS for being hounded by my huband to get the surgeries, ( I told him that I really got the sense as I walked that me not wanting to be cut open again made me realize that I was kind of like an alcoholic, in that, I had to hit rock bottom with my pain in order for me to bite the bullet and have the surgery done not only once but twice), THANKFULNESS for God answering my prayer through the scripture He gave me, even though it wasn’t through the stem cell healing that I wanted, but most of all, THANKFULNESS that I had a doctor that was the first one in his family to get a college degree and that I was blessed to have YOU and your knowledge and skill to perform my surgeries and GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, for following the call on your life Dr. Lyons! We are all capable of doing so much more than we ever think possible and I’m so glad to say that I would never have known this without your help in my life! I am forever grateful! Know that you are changing the lives of your patients.

 

May God continue to bless you abundantly!

 

Michelle Lloyd

 

 

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Does Medicare Cover You When Traveling Abroad? https://selectinternationaltours.com/does-medicare-cover-you-when-traveling-abroad/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/does-medicare-cover-you-when-traveling-abroad/#respond Mon, 13 May 2019 19:19:39 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=13564 Most of our clients are concerned about medical coverage while traveling abroad. We always recommend the purchase of a good Travel Protection policy which includes coverage in case of illness or accident. The Travel Protection (Travel Insurance) policy provides peace of mind for you in case you need medical attention during your trip.

Select International Tours and Cruises offers an excellent policy through Travel Insured. Please refer to your trip page for details or call us at 800-842-4842.

Many travelers will call us to ask if they are covered by their current health insurance policy or Medicare. We recommend you call your insurance to clarify coverage. However, sometimes the information about coverage is confusing and even conflicting.

According to Medicare.gov, Medicare usually doesn’t cover health care if you need it when traveling abroad.

Here is the link to Medicare.gov which addresses the issue of coverage during international travel. https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/travel

You may purchase a Medigap policy which will cover you during international travel. Here is the link to the information you may find useful.

https://www.medicare.gov/supplements-other-insurance/medigap-travel

Important to Remember:  Most foreign-based medical service providers will want to get paid on the spot. They will provide the paperwork for you to file a claim when you return but they will not do this work for you, nor will they be willing to wait for payment, so be sure you have a credit card you can use for emergency medical expenses.

Be sure to get copies of all your medical records from the medical service providers abroad as well as copies of all invoices and payments. Upon return to the USA, it is important to share your medical records with your doctor and file a claim with Medicare or another insurance company if you have a different policy or supplemental coverage. They may deny it but the system is so confusing it is worth a try.

The travel company cannot advance funds for any medical service! 

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We are Partnering with the Catholic Feminist Podcast https://selectinternationaltours.com/catholic_feminist_podcast/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/catholic_feminist_podcast/#respond Wed, 01 May 2019 17:38:19 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=13345 Catholic Feminist Podcast Select International

The Catholic Feminist Podcast is, “…a podcast for Jesus-loving women who want to be inspired, involved, and intentional. Each week, we speak with women who are living out their faith in a radical, real way.”

That is a mission which is easy for us to get behind!

Select International Tours and Cruises is excited to announce our partnership with the Catholic Feminist Podcast. We understand that the word “feminist” is not usually associated with “Catholic.” Which is one of the reasons we are so excited about this partnership.

Words have the power to elicit an emotional response—we can all agree on that—but sometimes the emotional response is based on our experience of the groups that speak the word the loudest.

The word, “feminist,” is an excellent example. For many, the word dredges up a cloud of mire. Associations with competing social agendas, lifestyle choices, and political ideologies come to mind and the easiest thing for us to do is put the word in a box labeled, “Poison.” Is that really the best response?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, feminism is, “The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Weigh that definition against Genesis 1:27-28, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (RSVCE).

 

Can One Be Both Catholic and Feminist?

 

In a recent interview on Grottonetwork.com, show host Claire Swinarski answered the question this way: “…people don’t feel you can be both because society has completely warped the idea of what a ‘feminist’ is.”

“The Church asks us to value women, embrace their gifts, and uphold their place in society. It does so within the writings of Edith Stein and John Paul II too many times to count. So it isn’t so much that there’s a ‘middle ground’ as it is a full embrace of Church teachings.”

 

Why This Podcast?

 

The decision to support the Catholic Feminist Podcast did not come lightly. The title caught our attention and we wanted to know more. A few episodes later, we could see how important this podcast was in bringing attention to women’s issues and proving that a strong faith was not at odds with being a strong woman.

Consider this episode with Colleen Carroll Campbell. If you are not familiar with Colleen, she is a best-selling author and speaker. She was also a speechwriter for President George W. Bush and served as a North American delegate to a Vatican Congress on Women. In this episode, she discusses the challenges of perfectionism and how she has learned, through the lives of the Saints, to “trade in [her] view of ‘perfect’ for God’s.” The Catholic Feminist Podcast brings topics like this into the light and discusses them in a way that honors God, Scripture, and the Church.

Supporting the work of The Catholic Feminist Podcast is directly supporting the myriad women of faith building a firm foundation of faith in their homes, churches, and workplaces. Our hope is that many of these women will hear about and go on pilgrimage. We pray that those experiences will deepen their faith, so they can continue to move their families, friends, and children toward a more developed experience within the Universal Church.

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Visit to the Holy Land – A Pilgrim’s Report by Philip Niswonger https://selectinternationaltours.com/visit-to-the-holy-land-a-pilgrims-report-by-philip-niswonger/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/visit-to-the-holy-land-a-pilgrims-report-by-philip-niswonger/#respond Fri, 07 Dec 2018 21:10:26 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=11776 Here is a nice summary put together by Philip Niswonger – one of the pilgrims who recently traveled to the Holy Land with Msgr. Paul Bochicchio and Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers.

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Are you a pilgrim or a tourist? https://selectinternationaltours.com/are-you-a-pilgrim-or-a-tourist/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/are-you-a-pilgrim-or-a-tourist/#respond Wed, 07 Nov 2018 16:02:19 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=11561 By Mathew Kelly

My friend Fr. Bob Sherry and I have been hosting pilgrimages for a long time. Our current schedule includes three trips each year: the Holy Land; Lourdes and Paris (France); and Rome, Assisi, and Florence (Italy). On the opening night, we always ask our pilgrims the same question: Are you going to be a pilgrim or a tourist?

Tourists want everything to go exactly as they have planned and imagined it. They rush around making sure they cram everything in. They’re constantly buying souvenirs and knickknacks, many of which they will look at when they get home and wonder, “What was I thinking?” They focus on themselves, often shoving past others to get where they’re going. Tourists go sightseeing. Tourists count the cost.

Pilgrims are very different. They look for signs. If a flight gets delayed or canceled, they ask, “What is God trying to say to me?” Pilgrims aren’t concerned with seeing and doing everything, just the things they feel called to see and do. They’re not obsessed with shopping. They are aware of others’ needs. Pilgrims look for meaning. Pilgrims count their blessings.

The reality is we are all pilgrims. This planet we call earth is not our home; we are just passing through. We build homes and establish ourselves on earth in ways that ignore that we are really just here for short time. It’s a dangerous pastime to live as if you’re never going to die, but consciously or subconsciously we all fall into this trap to one degree or another.

In this life, we’re just passing through. The happiness that God created us for is different from the fleeting happiness and momentary pleasures of this world. God created us for lasting happiness in a changing world — and eternal happiness with him in heaven. The happiness he wants for us in this life is a rare kind of happiness that isn’t dependent on situations or circumstances. It’s easy to be happy when everything is going well, but Christian joy allows us to be happy like Paul was when he was in prison.

Do you ever think about heaven? It seems to me we don’t talk about it anywhere near as much as we should. When Rudyard Kipling was very seriously ill, a nurse asked him, “Is there anything you want?” He replied, “I want God!” We all do. We may not be aware of it, but we want Him. Behind every desire for a new car or a new house, a promotion or accomplishment, clothes and jewelry, plastic surgery, adventure and travel, food and sex, acceptance and comfort, is our desire for God. We are always hungry for something more complete, and God is the completeness that we yearn for from the depths of our soul.

We are just passing through, and it’s helpful to remind ourselves of that from time to time. In the context of eternity, we’re only here for the blink of an eye. Realizing this changes our priorities. At the same time, we’re here for a reason. You are here for a reason. God has a mission for you.

Life is a pilgrimage, a sacred journey. Typically, a pilgrimage takes us to a shrine or other location important to a person’s faith or beliefs. You can make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Rome, Fatima, Lourdes, the Camino, or any of the famous Catholic sites around the world. But you could also make a pilgrimage to your nearest cathedral. In fact, every Sunday you make a pilgrimage to your local parish to Mass.

Very often people make pilgrimages with special intentions in mind. Some ask God for a favor, perhaps to heal a loved one who is sick. Others make a pilgrimage in thanksgiving for a blessing they’ve already received from God. There are always couples on our trips who are celebrating a wedding anniversary. On every trip, Fr. Bob chooses one of the holy places and invites every couple to renew their marriage vows. Powerful!

Life is a pilgrimage, but sometimes you need a pilgrimage to discover life. We’re journeying in this life toward the sacred city, toward the heart of God — heaven. Nobody makes the journey alone. We all need companions. I’ve met some of my very best friends in this world on pilgrimages. These friends encourage us and challenge us to become the “best version of ourselves.” By doing so, they help us to get to heaven.

Let’s pray for the grace to be pilgrims and not just tourists. Let’s pray for the grace to be the kind of friend who helps others in the great pilgrimage of life. We’re just passing through this place we call earth. At every turn we’re tempted to be tourists, so spend some time today thinking about heaven.

MATTHEW KELLY is the founder of Dynamic Catholic and the bestselling author of more than 20 books, published in 25 languages. His latest is Resisting Happiness.

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National Tour Association, taps President of Select International Tours and Cruises for a leadership position on its board of directors https://selectinternationaltours.com/national-tour-association-taps-president-of-select-international-tours-and-cruises-for-a-leadership-position-on-its-board-of-directors/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/national-tour-association-taps-president-of-select-international-tours-and-cruises-for-a-leadership-position-on-its-board-of-directors/#respond Fri, 24 Aug 2018 18:42:50 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=10572 NTA is the premier organization for people in the travel business, governed by a 17-member board of directors. The organization is based in Kentucky, USA, but its membership spans the globe and consists of travel suppliers, international tourist boards, convention bureaus, site attractions, tour operators, travel agents and group travel planners. 

Edita Krunic, President of Select International Tours and Cruises, a thirty-two-year-old faith based and group tour company, was one of the founders of the Faith Travel Association and a member of the associations advisory board for five years. Faith Travel Association has been converted to the status of the Faith Travel Advisory Group. NTA, has encouraged niche tour operators to expand their market presence and network by joining a professional association.  Through her work on behalf of the faith-based travel market, Edita has gained recognition as a proponent for establishing professional standards for service providers which would protect consumers. 

The main focus of NTA is on providing opportunities for members to connect through sharing information, building professional networks and attending two annual events, the Travel Exchange and Contact.  NTA also focuses on education and professional development and travel industry lobbying efforts in Washington D.C.    

Edita has been an active member of NTA for over ten years, has attended most Travel Exchange conferences and is a highly regarded presenter at many of its workshops on the topic of sales and marketing and Faith Based Travel.  “It is an honor to be elected to the board of  directors by my peers in the travel industry. NTA is an outstanding association focused on member benefits. It is my pleasure to serve with an outstanding group of people for the benefit of the entire organization”, said Edita after the elections for the board were completed. 

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Taste of Tradition through Travel https://selectinternationaltours.com/taste-of-tradition-through-travel/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/taste-of-tradition-through-travel/#respond Wed, 18 Jul 2018 18:31:20 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=9938 By Fr. Leo Patalinghug

Part of my “calling” as a priest is to be a “missionary” preacher – someone who is sent to preach the Gospel of Jesus to all nations.  That’s why traveling is such an important part of my ministry.  As you may or may not know, I lead many pilgrimages, about four each year.

Stay tuned for my upcoming 2019 travel itineraries to the Holy Land, Croatia, Amalfi Coast & Sicily, and a “Taste of Italy” trip!

In a recent trip to Budapest, I learned so many new things about our Catholic Church’s influence in that unique part of the world.  I visited Budapest many years ago as a seminarian, but I was so impressed by what I experienced in my recent trip – as a priest almost 20 years later!

Click here to read more.

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Faith Travel Association Names First Impact and Inspire Award Winners https://selectinternationaltours.com/faith-travel-association-names-first-impact-and-inspire-award-winners/ https://selectinternationaltours.com/faith-travel-association-names-first-impact-and-inspire-award-winners/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 20:35:21 +0000 https://selectinternationaltours.com/?p=8809 During its annual conference, held in Atlanta, Georgia, Faith Travel Association named the recipients of its Impact and Inspire Awards, which were created to honor travel professionals for their contributions to the faith-based travel market. The announcement came during the keynote session on Monday, February 2.

“FTA’s members are among the best in the industry, and we wanted a way to recognize them for the incredible work they are doing to advance the faith-based travel market,” explained Julie Hoover-Ernst, executive director of Faith Travel Association. “These awards give us an opportunity to recognize them for the innovative travel products they are developing which are not only appealing to a new kind of faith-based customer, they are building bridges and promoting peace by bringing people of different cultures together.”

Select International Tours and Cruises, a Christian travel management company founded in 1987 in Flemington, New Jersey, was the recipient of FTA’s Impact Award, which is presented to the travel agent, tour operator, DMO or Supplier with the most innovative faith based marketing concept, program or event in 2015, having showed demonstrable success in driving more faith-based travel to their destination, tour or attraction.

Edita Krunic, Select International Tours and Cruises

Edita Krunic, Select International Tours and Cruises

Edita Krunic, founder and president of Select International Tours & Cruises said, “It feels incredible to be recognized for the contribution Select International Tours has made in creating innovative, quality driven programs,. Krunic continued,“We are proud to be members of FTA and are excited about the robust growth we have seen in the religious travel market, with lots of new ideas, programs and stakeholders.  With the creation of the Impact Award, FTA has taken another step toward upgrading the value it offers to the entire industry.”

Select International Tours & Cruises was recognized for its Nourish The Soul Program, which enables participants to celebrate their faith together, meet with locals and learn about the customs and cultures of the destination and, in the words of the Psalms, “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.” This program not only lets Christians walk where Jesus walked, and pray where Jesus prayed, they get to explore Biblical cuisine by tasting the foods commonly eaten in Jesus’ time. The meals are prepared by Chefs for Peace, an organization comprised of chefs of different faiths who understand the power of food to bring people together, and participants even get an opportunity to help prepare these unique meals. Since introduced, demand for these faithful foodie tours has continued to climb and they are adding more tours all the time.

“Enhancing the pilgrimage experience through cooking with local chefs, visiting shrines and wineries, praying and sharing at the table has met with incredible success,” explained Krunic. “Our Nourish the Soul and Women and Wine product lines are an extension of the Faith and Food concept which we have now trademarked. With this concept we have created a completely new product line which is attractive to an entirely different and non-traditional pilgrimage customer.”

The Inspire Award is FTA’s most prestigious award, given to a person whose outstanding contributions over the course of their career have greatly advanced the faith-based travel market. The successful candidate’s innovative programs must have a lasting impact on not only the sector but on the lives of those who embark on these journeys of faith.

Aziz Abu Sarah, co-founder of MEJDI Tours, was honored with the Inspire Award for his efforts to redefine faith-based tourism. The company’s partnership with National Geographic to present the Holy Land in a way that is respectful to Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Jews, Muslims, and Christians is nothing short of groundbreaking. Through their partnership with National Geographic, the message of hope and peace has reached millions of people through the National Geographic catalogs, and has altered the perceptions travelers have of conflict and peace in the Holy Land. With his leadership, MEJDI Tours continues to expand its influential model of peace building through tourism by offering tours to Cuba, Ireland and Northern Ireland, Oman, the UAE, Turkey, Jordan, and more. By highlighting diverse cultural, religious, political, and ethnic narratives, MEJDI’s multiple perspectives approach to tourism enables travelers to gain a deeper understanding of destinations and their populations, forging lasting friendships with both individuals and local organizations.

“I’m truly honored to receive this award,” said Sarah. We’ve created MEJDI Tours because we believe that travel is one of the most powerful forces globally for intercultural understanding and positive change. With 3 million tourists visiting the Holy Land each year, can you imagine what the impact would be if everybody traveled this way?”

From Religious Travel Planning Guide

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