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Pilgrims return to the skies

Two Australian pilgrimage operators say travellers are taking to the skies again following the 11 September terrorist attack and despite continuing conflict in the Holy Land.

The Catholic Leader reports that they are choosing tours to alternative destinations, away from recent trouble zones.

Harvest Pilgrimages general manager Philip Ryall said his company has been promoting tours to the shrines of Italy and Portugal.

"The situation has allowed us to implement pilgrimage ideas we'd filed away," Mr Ryall said.

Harvest expects a big year in 2002 with World Youth Day in Canada.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising that pilgrimages to some West Bank destinations be deferred and that operators be cautious elsewhere in the Holy Land.

Meanwhile the Holy Land crisis that has kept away pilgrims and tourists has plunged thousands of workers and their families into ruin. Brevivet, one of the largest pilgrimage agencies in Italy, sent 40,000 pilgrims to the Holy Land between January and October of 2000. This year it sent only 500.

Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, administrator delegate of the Roman Work of Pilgrimages, said: "The drastic reduction in the flow has left thousands of families and entire communities on the street."


Catholic Leader/Zenit