Religious and Spiritual Tourism: From Its Origins to Alentejo (Portugal)

Religious and Spiritual Tourism: From Its Origins to Alentejo (Portugal)

Bruno Barbosa Sousa (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal & CiTUR, Portugal), Cristina Castro (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal), Maria Emília Luís (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal) and Paulo Lopes (Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5792-1.ch004
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Abstract

Over the years there has been an increase in competition among tourism destinations, leading to the need for a deeper understanding about the tourism realm, impact, and management. Tourism has expanded its scope, reflecting an increasing recognition in the academic community paralleled by the application of interdisciplinary concepts and methods. Indeed, research in tourism has been studying its various implications from a multitude of perspectives and with interdisciplinary insights. Areas in tourism research entail planning of tourism destinations, local development, environmental impact, territorial brand management, and tourist loyalty. With new motivations, new niches are created, and it is one of those niches that the authors address in this work, namely, spiritual tourism. Spiritual tourism derives from religious tourism because it is linked to spiritualism and is associated with wellness tourism. This manuscript aims to present the importance of spirituality in the context of tourism (Alentejo, Portugal). In the end, new lines of research will be presented for the future.
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Introduction

Over the years there has been an increase in competition among tourism destinations (Ferreira & Sousa, 2020), leading to the need for a deeper understanding about the tourism realm, impact and management. Tourism, as an area of study, has expanded its scope, reflecting an increasing recognition in the academic community paralleled by the application of interdisciplinary concepts and methods (Jafari & Aaser 1988). Indeed, research in tourism has been studying its various implications from a multitude of perspectives and with interdisciplinary insights (Echtner & Jamal, 1997). Areas in tourism research entail, for example, planning of tourism destinations, local development, environmental impact, territorial brand management and tourist loyalty (Getz, 1986; Embacher & Buttle, 1989; Backman & Crompton, 1991; Sousa & Rodrigues, 2019; Alves et al., 2020). The field of tourism marketing, in particular, has faced increasing challenges in capturing market dynamics, such as, market fragmentation and diversity. New habits, needs and trends in the global tourism arena create more sophisticated consumers who systematically look for different and specific experiences. Such context calls for new market approaches (Sousa & Silva, 2019).

Of particular relevance to this study is the idea of religious tourism and its experience. The history of civilizations reflects the importance of spirituality in the development of societies (Smith, 1992). Historical heritage is largely formed by religious features and religious sites are often relevant centres of attraction for visitors (Navruz-Zoda & Navruz-Zoda, 2016). Religious tourism is “oriented around the motivations of the tourists. It usually includes religious ceremonies, festivals, sacred places and shrines, and conferences. In many cases, ceremonies and commemoration days dictate the timing of this form of tourism, which often has a seasonal character” (Maoz & Bekerman, 2010, pp. 424). Pilgrimage centres are located in important tourist destinations, such as, Rome (Italy), Lourdes (France) or Fatima (Portugal). Thus, for some regions, religious tourism can be a platform for tourism development and, consequently, have a favourable economic impact in the local economy (Kartal, Tepeci & Atli, 2015; Nolan & Nolan, 1992; Vukonic, 2002).

The tourism system entails interactions between local communities and the tourist (e.g. Larsen, 2007; Neuhofer et al., 2014; Pinto da Silva et al., 2019) that have relevant implications for the tourist experience. Religious tourism, especially within its spiritual scope, contains unique traits considering that offer and demand are endowed with great spiritual, emotional and affective connections (Nolan & Nolan, 1992; Vukonik, 2002). Tourists who are attracted to religious sites may have different needs and expectations from pilgrims. Managers develop measures to reduce conflicts between tourists and pilgrims, for example, establishing suitable dress-code indications or behaviors (Nolan & Nolan, 1992; Olsen & Timothy, 2006; Shackley, 2006; Maoz & Bekerman, 2010). Thus, transposing the idea of experience to religious destinations raises specific aspects that are worthwhile addressing. Although there is a relevant line of research investigating experiences, the area needs further development (Ritchie & Hudson, 2009) to capture the dynamic nature of the tourism activity with experiences subject to permanent change and transformations (Neuhofer et al., 2014), as it happens in the religious context. Existing studies show limitations regarding aspects of consumer behaviour, such as, the profile, needs and motivations of pilgrims (Amaro, Antunes & Henriques, 2018).

The conception of the idea of tourism has evolved a lot in recent years. Since mankind early days human beings has traveled. In fact, in the beginning of our history, as a race, man did not stay in the same place for long. We became known as nomads, always from one side to the other, looking for the best piece of land, the best weather conditions, with the best resources. Since we started to stay in the same place, the motivations of the travels changed, the hunting trips and the commercial trips began to appear and only later, already in the classic era, the ancient Greeks began to travel for academic or sports reasons. But it is unthinkable to link that period to an idea of tourism. The very word “tourism”, according to some historians, has its origin in the 19th century and derives from the term Grand Tur. The motivations of leisure, health and rest began to appear, however, at that time, only those who belonged to a higher social class had the privilege of traveling (Tosqui, 2007).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Spiritual Tourism: Is linked to Religious Tourism, this link is ancient, assumed as an engine in all cultures, which develop based on a religion, thus playing a fundamental role in people's culture.

Place Identity: Symbolic or emotional connection for a location or context.

Place Dependence: Functional connection with a particular place or context.

Place Attachment: The affectivity a tourist develops to a place.

Spirituality: Any kind of connection with your inner self and with whatever is around you, alive or not.

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