Religious tourism

Religious tourism, also commonly referred to as faith tourism, is a type of tourism, where people travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary, or leisure (fellowship) purposes. The world’s largest form of mass religious tourism takes place in India at the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage, which attracts over 100 million pilgrims. North American religious tourists comprise an estimated $10 billion of the industry.

Modern religious tourists are more able to visit holy cities and holy sites around the world. The most famous holy sites are the Great Mosque of Mecca, the Holy Shrine of Imam Hoseyn in Karbala, the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, the Holy Shrine of Lady Fatima Masuma in Qom, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima in Cova da Iria, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Religious tourism has existed since antiquity. A study in 2011 found that 2.5 million people visited Karbala on the day of Arbaeen in 2013, pilgrims visited Jerusalem for a few reasons: to understand and appreciate their religion through a tangible experience, to feel secure about their religious beliefs, and to connect personally to the holy city.

A scientific analysis and classification of the topic encounters many obstacles, whereby the evaluation of the travel motivation plays a central role. It is almost impossible to question a traveler about the degree of his religious motivation to determine if he is a religious or non-religious tourist. Apart from that, originally with a different motivation, travelers have occasionally unplanned during their journey spiritual experiences that characterize the character of the journey from this point on (in the extreme case, the nature of the legendary Damascus experiencethe Christian persecutor Saul, who, according to the Bible, changed during a trip to the apostle Paul). Unexpected changes in the character of a journey, there are z. In cases where travelers are “spiritually overwhelmed” by impressions gained at the place of residence (example: the Jerusalem Syndrome ).

The majority of the pilgrims who arrived in Santiago de Compostela, Spain , on the Way of St. James claim to have undertaken this walk for religious reasons. But there will also be people who are from other, not easy to classify motives. However, differences can be found in the different types of travel.

Types of Travel
monastery holiday
Staying for several days in spiritual centers such as monasteries and communities, in which a conscious break with the outside world is desired and spiritual offers such as meditation and discussion groups are in demand.

Walks that are deliberately taken individually or in small groups with spiritual motives. It deliberately prefers simple pilgrim quarters, which differ from commercial offers. The Jakobswegen is of particular importance throughout Europe .

Traditional one- or multi-day hikes organized in groups, eg. B. be undertaken with the parish to pilgrimage sites recognized by canon law. They are annual, often with the same route.

Church visits
As a major travel destination in spiritual tourism, the motivations of travelers are particularly heterogeneous when visiting a church. Religiosity, historical, cultural, architectural interest flow together.

Religious celebrations
Traditional festivals with a religious character.

Sites with a historical and religious character
Places, often birthplaces, that are closely linked to the life and work of a person known in the religious-spiritual sense.

Travel to major church events
To church events such as travel, Catholics days , church conventions , World Youth Days or the European meeting of the Taizé community are taken.

graveyard tourism
Travel to cemeteries where famous people are buried. The best known example is the burial place of the musician Jim Morrison in the cemetery Cimetière du Pere Lachaise in Paris . Getting to know the cemetery culture in different European cities is supported by the European Cemetery Route .

Trend or tradition?
Religious travel can be regarded as the forerunner of today’s tourist travel, as this type of travel, unlike trade or war travel, was often voluntary. Although it was quite common in the Middle Ages that the church prescribed ” sinners ” pilgrimages as repentance; However, it was quite possible for those who were so misunderstood to refrain from traveling without serious consequences. Especially from the 13th century pilgrimages increased. During this time there were over 10,000 places of pilgrimage in Europe. With the ReformationReligious journeys in the Protestant areas came to an end for the time being, but with the Counter-Reformation numerous important places of pilgrimage flourished, especially in Catholic Bavaria, like Altötting or Vierzehnheiligen. Those who take part in appropriate journeys today tend to cultivate an old tradition.

However, many people, including Protestants, also seek “only” distance and reflection when traveling, from which they hope for some kind of “spiritual added value”, usually beyond organized offers of established religious communities. In many cases, the need for a “free-floating spirituality” is to be fulfilled , which is to be narrowed in the opinion of each traveler not by traditional dogmas. This view is, according to trend researchers, an expression of “megatrends”, which should lead both to a sharp increase in demand in the sensual markets and in the tourism industry. Both growth factors can therefore be brought together in “spiritual tourism”.

A mixed form represents the perception of offers of established religious communities, without the consumer then accepting all the implications that are actually associated with them. Thus, in addition to pilgrimages (not only on the Way of St. James ), temporary stays in the monastery are also in demand by a growing group of people who do not intend to live permanently like monks or nuns, or make a vowto fulfill. In addition to older people, these are increasingly also young people, couples and families, who generally lead a “normal” worldly life and temporarily seek the necessary distance from their otherwise very hectic life or (after a stroke of fate or a life crisis) seeking help. One can speak of a “trend” when, in order to satisfy those needs that are not fed by traditional piety , people can always look for ways other than the traditional ways of satisfying those needs.

Nonetheless, those who are not primarily concerned with preserving traditions often revive old customs and festivals, and also make pilgrimages that have become uncommon.

Religion is a sensitive topic, and a component in many international and regional conflicts. A comprehensive guidebook of all religious customs in the world would be very long; as a general principle, travellers should learn about ethics prescribed by the dominant religions at the destination.

Although no definitive study has been completed on worldwide religious tourism, some segments of the industry have been measured:

According to the World Tourism Organization, an estimated 300 to 330 million pilgrims visit the world’s key religious sites every year.
According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, Americans traveling overseas for “religious or pilgrimage” purposes has increased from 491,000 travelers in 2002 to 633,000 travelers in 2005 (30% increase).
The Christian Camp and Conference Association states that more than eight million people are involved in CCCA member camps and conferences, including more than 120,000 churches.
Religious attractions including Sight & Sound Theatre attracts 800,000 visitors a year while the Holy Land Experience and Focus on the Family Welcome Center each receives about 250,000 guests annually.

At the Wittenberg Study Conference, Herbert Poensgen was critical of the “plastic word” spirituality . It should be placed in the context of a postmodern detachment of the spiritual from concrete religions, which could be deconstructed in the sense of a “free-floating spirituality” and whose set pieces could be reassembled by anyone at will. So religion is replaced by religiosity. Spirituality is for the Rostock theology professor Thomas Klie “a container term for late-modern religiosity. And what comes into the container, decides every believer himself. ” At thisThe type of “respiritualization of Germany” is based on the organized in Germany spiritual tourism.

Christoph Kühn of the German Society of St. James criticizes that those pilgrims who revolted that there are references to the Buchenwald concentration camp in materials about the Via Regia as the eastern part of a Way of St. James , the deeper meaning of a pilgrimage on a Way of St. James would not have understood. Pope John Paul II pointed out in 1982 that the pilgrimage was about the succession of the apostle James. The Apostle James is revered as a martyr in Santiago, and what his succession in the final consequence could mean (should not mean), show the described in the pilgrim fate of the Protestant martyr Paul Schneiderin Buchenwald. The fact that there is no reference to the Osthofen concentration camp on a “Pilgerweg” running through the middle of the Osthofen wine-growing village does not support Kuhn’s misinterpretation of the idea of spiritual tourism. It is often only about the “own needs and desires” of the pilgrims and the need to increase sales in the tourism industry by avoiding negative experiences.

At a meeting of the Thuringian working group Church and Tourism was criticized that measures in spiritual tourism are often led by non-independent interests and the terms Jacob Way and pilgrims decontextualized as public appeal brands would be used.

The Oberösterreichische Touristik GmbH claims that “in contrast to the pilgrimage, piritual walking is not religiously motivated”. It distinguishes strictly between “religiously motivated, organized and professionally accompanied pilgrimages in larger groups” (the “religiously motivated”) and “spiritual wandering ones” who “usually organize their journeys individually” and “alone or in small groups Groups on the way “. Such a devaluation of travel forms that are not at the specifications and rules: keep (in the case of Upper Austria Catholic) Church, rejects Christian Antz from. Antz demands that spiritual tourism organizers “pick people up where they stand, not where the Christian churches are.”

Source from Wikipedia