The Technological Power of Mysticism: A New Approach to Management of Religious Destinations

The Technological Power of Mysticism: A New Approach to Management of Religious Destinations

Eda Avci (Efes Vocational School, Department of Tourism and Hotel Management, Dokuz Eylul University, Turkey) and Gizem Kayar (Computer Engineering Department, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5792-1.ch005
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Technological advances have significantly influenced the tourism and the sector realities. Like other industries, in the past couple of years, the stakeholders witnessed a continuous upgrade in tourism. These technological upgrades vary from personal online travel planners to complicated immersive rooms. Tourism trend analyses, online agencies, mobile locator and interactive maps, AR/VR enhancements, virtual assistants and robots, IoT, big data, and blockchain are most popular fields that tourism industry integrate itself seamlessly. As the cities, destinations, and tourism become smarter every day, religious tourism must get its share from emerging technological benefits. Every year, millions visit various holy places. A significant amount of data can be collected from millions of pilgrims. If this data are analyzed accurately, destination management and experience enhancement can be performed much easier than today. The aim of this study is to discuss the motivation of religious tourists, and how to implement smart destination principles in religious sites.
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Religious tourism has been the pioneering form of tourism as religious destinations have become not only a part of the cultural landscape but also a vital factor in local marketing since ancient times. Nowadays, religious tourism, dating back to the history of humanity, has become one of the major parts of many hosted destinations’ economies. Particularly, some religious centers that are important for all humanity, such as Mecca, Israel, Vatican create a huge financial transaction by attracting millions of religious tourists in the destination (TN Global Travel Industry News, 2014). According UNWTO 600 million national and international people visit holy places annually, also 300 million tourists visit the world’s major religious sites each year (CBI, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2018). And more than 50,000 religious organizations are serving pilgrims by organizing religious ceremonies and pilgrim journeys (Tala & Padurean, 2008).

Annually, about 13 million Muslims visit Mecca and two million visitors go abroad to Jerusalem. The Christian pilgrimage sites like Fátima (Portugal), Our Lady of Lourdes Sanctuary (France), St Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican, the Basilica of St Francis and St Clare of Assisi (Italy) to Jasna Gora (Poland) attract millions of pilgrims and tourists (Heidari, et al., 2018). There are some important factors which are the main reasons why a large proportion of people have religious beliefs such as hope for the afterlife, superstitious and anthropomorphism nature of faiths, belief injustice. Also, children in many parts of the world legally have the same religion as their parents (Pepper, 2014).

The main motivation of religious tourists depends on their faith, as they also want to explore the historic roots, experience a unique culture, visit the world’s inspiring destinations, and simply have fun on their journey, religious tourism has significantly interacted with holiday, and cultural tourism (Rinschede, 1992). The cathedrals, synagogues, and mosques located all over the world attract visitors not only for religious but also for educational and cultural purposes (Woodward, 2004). Therefore, the motivation dimensions of religious tourists can be divided into two categories such as push (internal/intrinsic) factors and pull (external/extrinsic) factors (Dann, 1981).

Although travel for a religious purpose has existed in the history of humanity from ancient times, the motivation and the characteristics of religious tourism have changed over the millennia (Raj and Griffin 2015). That’s why the determination of what visitors expect from their experiences, what kind of experience visitors have (consume) at the site and what type of benefits visitors derive from their experience while leaving is becoming more essential for religious destinations (Smallman & Moore, 2010). Offering only good quality of service to consumers is not enough to manage destinations (Grung, 2016).

This study emphasizes the benefits and importance of the smart approach for the management of religious destinations by addressing two opposite issues such as technology and mysticism consists of two chapters. In the first chapter, the concept of religious tourism and the technological approach, which provides important benefits for the management of religious tourism destinations, have been examined. In the second chapter, IoT, QR&Mobile Apps and Gamification technologies and their utilization in religious tourism have been reviewed. The suggestions that significance the attributes to be considered while developing technology for the management of religious tourism destinations are presented in the conclusion part of the study.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Anthropomorphism: Transferring human qualities to another entity.

Pilgrimage: Religious journeys to faith-based destinations.

IoT: Internet of Things is a term that refers to millions of connect devices and the data transfer over them.

Gamification: Application of game elements and principles for custom, application specific problems.

Religious Tourism: A kind of niche tourism that tourists are motivated to visit faith-based places and it is also referred as faith or spiritual tourism.

Mysticism: Spiritual apprehension of knowledge.

APP: The shorthand of application specific mobile applications.

QR: Quick Response code is kind of a barcode allows a user to access specific information rapidly.

Unique Experience: Exhilaration that cannot be obtained from anything else.

Smart Destination: Describes the destinations that embrace the use of emerging technologies for data collection, data analysis and implementation of environmental, economic, and social measures for a sustainable future.

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