Religious tourism is one of the niches of the tourist market in Growth.
The main destinations of this type of tourism are the places
Saints who represent places of devotion and pilgrimage as well as sites notable for its historical-cultural peculiarity.
Religious tourism has a Complex composition due to various elements that constitute their Destinations and the motives that move travelers to these places.
RELIGIOUS TOURISM AND ITS CONCEPTUALIZATION
Is To say, religious tourism is made up of religious and cultural patterns, traditional, spiritual, landscaped, which often interact in the
Intention and the decision to undertake the journey.
Religious tourism is growing considerably, not just in the countries developed, but also in developing countries;
because the economic surpluses allow to travel to the upper and middle classes. In The Century XXI in search of values;
religious and spiritual tourism can represent A great opportunity for women and men of all faiths,
Philosophies and religions.
According To estimates, religious and spiritual tourism accounts for about 20% of world tourism;
be of international and national tourism including excursions (Lanquar, 2007).
Robles Salgado (2001) refers to the Document of the Holy see on the Pilgrimage to show the visitor data of the religious centers:
According to estimates, religious cult centers each year receive Entreunos 220-250 million persons;
of which approximately 150 million, ie a 60-70%, are Christians.
Only in Europe, about 30 million of Christians, especially Catholics, dedicate their holidays (or a part of them) to make a pilgrimage.
The largest religious cult centers in the Christian world attract around 25 million of pilgrims (the
15% of the migratory faithful of this religion).
To These centers belong Rome with the Vatican (approximately 8 million);
Lourdes in France (6 million);
Fatima in Portugal (4 million);
Guadalupe in Mexico (2 million).
Among The Christian shrines, an important role is played by the Marian shrines.
Most of the places of pilgrimage of Christianity are
Related to the cult of the Virgin (about 80%).
These estimates are based on the total number of visitors to these sacred centres;
Among them both pilgrims and tourists.
In spite of this, and according to the statement of Sharpley and Sundaram (2005), in most of the sanctuaries of Western Europe;
The number of religious tourists often exceeds that of the pilgrims.
The concept of ‘ religious tourism ‘ has been The subject of reflections and studies among scientists;
Not just the world of tourism and social institutions;
But also on the part of the ethnographers, anthropologists, sociologists, geographers, economists.
On the other hand it has also been studied and defined from the ecclesiastical perspective;
Being a pioneer in its formulation in the years 50 and 60 of the TWENTIETH century.
The conceptualization of the term ‘ religious tourism ‘ contains a certain complexity.
It Is a concept, formed by two entities, tourism and
that have value in themselves and that give rise to a new reality or entity that shares the characteristics or elements of both entities (Parellada).
Religious tourism is a term of new creation and defines,
Generally, tourist activities linked to religious practices in specific places with a religious significance.
However, the definition of this concept bears certain difficulties;
Since at the time of attempting a conceptualization, questions arise related to the motives of the voyage;
To the behaviour of the visitors, and consequently, to different typologies, expectations and experiences.
What are the reasons that move tourists to visit these places?
Are These reasons purely religious content, is
Say the intent to perform penance or devotion, or intent to approach the divine?
Or can they be strictly cultural reasons: to know in depth their own culture, or to approach a new culture and another form of cultural and religious expression?
Perhaps, visits within the context of religious tourism They can occur from an occasional deviation within the itinerary of leisure tourism or other forms of tourism.
The above questions are closely linked to any attempt to define and conceptualize religious tourism.
There Are very different opinions, from which even pilgrimages to religious tourism to those that consider tourism itself as religion or sacred journey.
In the context of this study, it is particularly interesting to determine what are the crucial elements that define a religious tour;
What are the reasons for tourists to visit sanctuaries and other places of religious worship?
From this point of view, it is considered relevant to examine it from the compared angle between the phenomena of religious tourism and pilgrimage;
Since in the scientific world its conceptualization leads to certain oppositions in terms of the nature of these trips.
The reception spaces for pilgrims, religious tourists and secular tourists;
They represent the final or intermediate goal of a trip in relation to the objectives and motivations that move to visit a particular destination.
For a pilgrim, the whole pilgrimage path is directed towards the final destination;
That is the sacred place where the religious expression of their identity is produced and the sacred cult is performed.
For tourists, whether religious or not, this space can be represented by the place of the last stage of their journey;
Well for those who are part of the tour.
The sacred places, which have been and remain places of
In the modern society of technical, industrial and social progress they have become tourist sites.
Shine defines religious tourism:
As a term widely used in theory and practice to refer to patterns of contemporary travel to places of pilgrimage.
The religious practices and celebrations manifested in the sacred places attract both the faithful and the tourists whose reasons for visiting can be both religious and secular.
For pilgrims, religious practices are an important part of all the way and especially in the final goal-the sanctuary.
Prayers and rituals are essential elements of the
Pilgrimage, through which believers exercise penance and meditation.
The perception of religious practice on the part of tourists
It involves a profane character;
It is understood more as the opportunity for new experiences, knowledge acquisition;
Even sometimes it looks like fun, hobby or sheer curiosity.
However, along with these profane motives, there is the interest of a spiritual character;
That moves “religious” tourists to sacred sites and their participation in religious practices obtains a more religious and secular nuance.
In this context, it is considered important, first of all, to define the concepts of pilgrimage and religious tourist voyage, to determine the common elements between both phenomena, as well as the differences.