Tourism-Religion Relationships


Tourism involves people travelling from one region to another for the purpose of recreational, business or leisure. People who travel for these purposes are known as tourists, and they play pivotal roles to the world economy. In fact, tourists prefer travelling to new places in order to experience various environmental changes. This means that tourism may be guided by various motivation factors which may include search for business activities. Business people may consider travelling to their preferred destinations in search for business opportunities or religious purposes. Some people also may travel to other places for recreation purposes. This is where people move from their usual locations in search of fun, and it is prevalent in newly married couples. They leave their home places to recreation centers for honeymoon. They enjoy themselves there for some time and return to their homes.

Tourists may also travel to places to satisfy their curiosity in various sectors. For instance, people may decide to tour places with the aim of seeing wild animals or geographic features (Cohen 80). This means that tourists may be interested in natural things that are unique or absent in their places of residence. Tourism may be instigated by many factors, which include social, economic and political. Historical sites are also known to attract tourists in the world as people desire to travel and witness what they read in historical books. Religion relates to tourism in various ways since almost everybody in the world professes to a certain religion. This means that people conduct themselves in accordance with their religion. For instance, Christians have got beliefs that differ with those of Muslims in the world. This means that tourists from each religion follow their beliefs hence bringing about diversity in the tourism industry.

Tourism is crucial for any economy as businesses come up in tourists’ attraction sites. This means that employment is created as tourists have to be catered for in the foreign land (Stausberg 105). For instance, accommodation facilities come up hence providing safe havens for visitors (Yamashita 78). In return, they leave a lot of money which is channeled into the economy. Tourism plays essential roles towards development of the hospitality industry in countries rich in tourists’ attraction sites. People earn a lot of money from running businesses such as restaurants where tourists get accommodated. In addition, some companies offer transport services to both local and foreign tourists. Tourists are charged a fee that is higher than that charged to locals hence ensuring that businesses around tourists’ attraction sites prosper exceptionally well.

Tourism also triggers changes in social behaviors as local people interact with foreign tourists. For instance, there may be intermarriages caused by interactions between local people and tourists. Local people may adopt various habits from tourists which may be inconsistent with their cultures hence causing conflicts in the society (Schott 85). In many cases, people acquire different modes of dressing due to influence from tourists who are fashion conscious. Sports may also be influenced by tourism whereby tourists engage local people in their games. In addition, many people are introduced to the use of drugs and alcohol by tourists. This happens in developing countries where people are unexposed to various drugs. Interaction of local people with tourists may influence behavior changes leading to use of drugs and alcohol.

Religion has been part of human life for an extremely long period of time. In fact, social lives of people are normally influenced by their cultural practices. Cultural practices of any particular group of people are guided by their beliefs, which constitute their religion (Stausberg 105). Many traditional groups of people believed in existence of gods, and they adhered to their beliefs in fear of these gods. This means that they fear being punished by gods who in most societies are believed to have supernatural powers. Religion has a lot of influence in tourism both in local and international perspectives. Cultural practices influenced by religions may end up attracting tourists. This is evident in the modern society where people plan for travels to places where traditional religious beliefs are practiced. For instance, modern people who read about animal sacrifices in history may travel to conservative communities where the practice is still prevalent. Religion also may govern the extent to which foreign influence is allowed in any community. This happens where local people end up being subjected to behavior changes due to influence from foreign visitors.

Relationship between religion and tourism

There is the spatial relationship which involves movement of people from one place to another because of religion. This is experienced mostly in cases where pilgrimage is experienced in the world. In fact, many people tend to move from one place to another in search of spiritual satisfaction. Pilgrimage is common to all denominations in the world as it has influence from traditional practices carried out by these religions. Pilgrimage can be defined as a journey partaken by believers as a result of religious causes. This may happen where religion forces people to travel to other places to worship in specific shrines. This contributes to tourism since just like in tourism people move from their location to another for specific purposes.

The spatial relationship comes out clearly because both in religion and tourism as people have to shift from their usual places for specific reasons. Movements instigated by religion tend to have less impact on the environment but a lot of impact on social and economic aspects of the society. This happens because pilgrimage results to movement of people around the public space. In addition, it involves movement for material things, and this promotes trade as people have to shop wherever they travel (Scott and Jafari 59). In fact, business people enjoy booms in their businesses whenever there are religious movements. For instance, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca for the Muslim results to thousands of believers travelling for the Hajj. In this case, a religious activity has influenced mass movement of people from different parts of the world to Mecca. This is a darned compelling example that can be used to show the spatial relationship between tourism and religion.

Historical relationship between religion and tourism can be evident where historical aspects influence both religion and tourism. For instance, religious practices of people may be anchored in historical sites or practices. This can include instances where people used to pray facing given geographical features such as mountains or rivers. There may be strong beliefs towards existence of gods in such features hence influencing tourism activities around them. Some conservative societies may be praying to their gods just in the same the way as their ancestors. On the other hand, these practices may influence tourism where by people may be willing to travel to such places. This happens where tourists plan to visit designated areas which were traditionally believed to house gods. They plan these visits with the aim of identifying some traces that might be left behind by gods. In fact, most people in the world try so much to look for evidences that may be related to gods. This happens because the existence of gods remains a wonder to people as there is no one in the world who knows exactly what happens when people die (Raj and Morpeth 59). Many stories have been told about the origin of human beings and life, and nobody has ever provided any evidence. Therefore, people dwell on myths and legends hence instigating their urge for travelling to sacred places.

Most tourists in the world plan their travels based on what they read in history. For instance, when they read about trips that were made by famous historians, they develop the urge to visit those places. As a result, they end up contributing to tourism which may either be domestic or international. Religious beliefs may also be instigated by historical aspects of the society in subject. In fact, most religions are guided by principles believed to have been put in place by people who lived in the past. For instance, Christianity has its belief in historical people starting with the Roman Catholic. Therefore, it is evident that both tourism and religion has been influenced by history in various ways hence fostering the historical relationship.

There is the cultural relationship between religion and tourism. This is where cultural practices of a given community or society influences people’s beliefs and tourism. For instance, there are people who practice nomadism hence move from one place to another in search for pasture. This is a form of tourism since movement of people from one place to another with specific purposes takes place. People who are culturally nomads tend to have their own religions which allow them to pray and carry out their religious rites from wherever they go. This happens because they do not have permanent places of worship as they keep on moving with their animals.

Culture itself may be a form of tourists’ attraction, and this sees many people travel from their usual places to other places to experience and learn the foreign culture. For instance, in many museums, in the world culture is given priority. This gives tourists chances to get information regarding the culture in those places (Jafari 57). The link between culture and religion of people in those locations is explained. Therefore, tourists are enabled to understand how religion and culture influence each other. In fact, the cultural relationship between tourism and religion seems to apply in most aspects of the society.

Tourism may be influenced by cultural events. For instance, it may be part of cultural practices in various societies to go for vacations in certain times of the year. Therefore, it may be in these people’s annual budget to travel to places of their own choice hence enhancing tourism. These vacations may be determined by religious practices guided by culture. This means that culture and religion influence a lot of activities that are carried out by people in various societies and these includes tourism.

Religious tourism

Religious tourism is also known as faith tourism because people travel for religious purposes. Religious tourists target specific places such as holy cities. These are cities that are associated with religious activities, and in mostly cases they are in holy books. These towns include Jerusalem, Mecca and Varanasi and many believers pay visits to them each year. There are also holy sites that believers pay visits in order to get some reality about their beliefs. In fact, most religious tourists visit holy cities and sites to understand and appreciate their religion through experiences. This means that by paying visits to cities and holy sites read in holy books gives believers clear pictures on their religions. For instance, Christians who visit Jerusalem city appreciate the reality in their religion by getting to see towns where Jesus lived.

Religious tourism enables believers to visit and see holy sites hence enhancing security of their religious beliefs. Since religion is all about believing what in many cases is not seen, people who see what they have been reading only in holy books get to be more convinced. For instance, those who may be tired of waiting for the foretold glory may have their faith rejuvenated by getting to see most of what they read. In fact, this may convince many people of their religious activities hence promoting religions. Furthermore, religious tourism helps believers to connect personally to holy cities and sites. This means that believers who travel to holy cities and sites end up developing specific feelings about their religions since they feel connected with the holy cities. In fact, this enhances relationships between believers and their gods as they tend to witness the existence of what they have been hearing.

Some religious tourists travel as missionaries to various places with the aim of spreading the gospel. In fact, most religions send people to various places in the world to spread the good news to people. Their main objective is to spread the gospel and convert many people into their religion. Missionaries travel to places and settle there for some time (Ivanovic 77). They get involved in everyday activities of those places in order to win the hearts of the local people in their places of visit. For instance, they may come with ideas and projects aimed at uplifting standards of living of people in their target places. In the meantime, they ensure that they preach to people and build worship centers for the new converts. For instance, Christian missionaries build churches and Muslim missionaries build mosques for their new converts. Missionaries may be interchanged from time to time by their mother organization. This enables them to return to their countries to lead their normal lives. This is noteworthy because missionaries are normal people who have families and they too need some time with their wives and children.

There are also people who travel for leisure or fellowships. This is where believers travel from their usual places to foreign places with the purpose of relaxing and fellowships. A group of people may take faith vacations and travel to recreation sites. For the entire period, these people may be in their vacations they pray and worship their God. This enhances their relationships with God hence strengthening their faiths (Hsu and Gartner 73). These leisure tours may be done locally or internationally depending on the leisure time available for the believers. In most cases, believers going for fellowships set their goals and plans on what they need to do during their vacation. For instance, they may decide to pray for certain aspects affecting the society such as famine or drought. In their vacation, they take various activities besides praying. They may innovate ways of breaking the monotony of praising, praying and worshiping. In fact, they may set time to play games such as football or swimming.

Pilgrimage is another purpose for religious tourism. This is where mass movement of believers is experiences in the world. These movements are instigated by religious reasons and they differ with religions. For instance, Christians have what is known as ascending to Jerusalem, and it happens several times annually (Dallen 67). This influences tourism as believers from various parts of the world ascend to Jerusalem in each Biblical harvest festival. On the other hand, Muslims from all over the world converge to Mecca once every year to mark the Hajj. Most Muslim believers save for long to ensure that they travel to Mecca at least once in their life time. In fact, they value the visit since it is in their culture. Tourism industry in Mecca experiences a boom every time there is the Hajj. Pilgrimages result to a boom in the tourism industry as facilities end up being flooded with tourists.

Crusades and rallies are other religious purposes that instigate movement of believers. This happens where people travel to new locations either to attend or to conduct crusades and rallies. Believers from many places may gather at a common point for the purpose of spreading the gospel. In most cases, rallies are used to strengthen individual faiths as believers enlighten each other. These crusades and rallies last for a week or two hence enabling participating believers to stay away from their usual places for the entire period. There are also retreats where believers gather for extended teachings (Dallen 91). This happens where believers in a given region tend to converge for religious teachings, which last for weeks. They are taught by preachers and religious teachers from various parts of the world. Retreats may be attended by international guests depending on the organization. For instance, international religious organizations hold retreats that are attended by believers from all parts of the world. In most cases, religious leaders convene to these retreats with the aim of developing new strategies on how to administer leadership to their followers. They spend the entire time for retreats in recreation centers hence promoting tourism.

Impacts of tourism on religion

Tourism has impacted religion in the world in various ways. For instance, there has been the spread of various religions in the world as a result of tourism. This happens when tourists travel to foreign places for their vacations and leave behind a religion. In fact, people carry their beliefs wherever they go and pass it on to others as they interact. Tourists interact with local people in their target destinations; as a result, intermarriages come up. When people with cultural differences intermarry, chances are high that a lot is going to be exchanged. Religion is one of them as either the man or the woman has to change their religion to that of their partner. In fact, tourism may influence religion in two ways where by tourists may acquire new beliefs from their vacations. On the other hand, they may leave their beliefs with people in their destinations.

People in most developing countries have been forced to adopt religions from tourists who visit their places. This has caused many people to abandon their traditional ways of worshiping. In fact, people have embraced modern religions and they uphold modern practices, as opposed to their olden religious practices. Tourism has played decisive roles in preservation of some religions as tourists travel to witnesses traditional practices. For instance, pilgrimage of the Muslim has been emphasized by tourism as people have to travel to Mecca to see the holy city besides attending to the Hajj. Many people would not turn to pilgrimages year after year if they do not have fun when they travel to attend to such religious functions.

Tourism has had negative impacts to religion as people abandon some of their beliefs due to influence from tourists. For instance, in developing countries religion was strict on the use of drugs but this has been affected by tourism. Increased interaction between locals and tourist has influenced behavior changes, which adversely affected the religion. This is evident where locals start using drugs and alcohol contrary to expectations of their local religion. Sexual immorality has also increased due to increased interaction of locals with tourists. Most religions are strict on sexuality with sex being preserved for married couples. Tourism in many countries has led to increase in commercial sex as locals exchange sex for cash with tourists (Collins-Kreiner 49). This has tremendously affected the religion since there is no much they can do to combat the vice. Youths are abandoning their religions to take part in businesses regarding tourists since there is a lot of money in the tourism sector.

Religion has changed shape in the world due to influence from tourists. This happens where tourists work with religious leaders to harmonize local procedures with foreign procedures in running of religions. This brings a lot of confusion as some religious leaders may fight to preserve their traditional ways of conducting their worship. As a result, leaders part ways leading to the emergence of independent denominations. These denominations come up with their rules and regulations allowing some things that were prohibited by their mother denominations.

Tourism has influenced religion in many positive ways. For instance, both local and international religions have been linked hence helping each other in strengthening their faith. Religious leaders in developing countries have been able to interact with their counterparts from developed countries. They have been able to exchange a lot of information regarding how to run their organizations best. Missionaries who travel as tourists have been able to play key roles in development of religion in developing countries. For instance, they partner with local religious leaders to set up projects aimed at helping local believers. Missionaries have been able to set up schools and health facilities to be run by local religious organizations. In fact, catholic missionaries were known to come up with development projects wherever they toured. This helped them in spreading their religion to the locals because people loved worshiping with people who were helping them.

Tourism enabled many people to acquire religious education hence helping them to run local religious institutions. For instance, many people acquire religious education from abroad hence bringing back the knowledge to their local places. Majority of religious leaders in developing countries gets scholarships from tourists. They travel to western countries to get trained in religious matters.


Tourism involves movement of people from their usual places to other places due to various reasons. Some people travel in order to relax while others travel to see historical and geographical sites. Tourism sectors in many countries play vital roles to the world economy. Tourism and religion are related in many ways since both involve social aspects of human life. For instance, people travel to other places for religious purposes hence promoting tourism. There are religious events, which involve mass movement of people from all over the world to specific places. For example, there is the pilgrimage which includes the Hajj for the Muslim and ascending to Jerusalem for Christians. Tourism has a lot of effects to social lives of people including their religions. This is evident where many religions reshape due to influence from tourists’ interaction with believers. In addition, may people have changed into modern religions due to influence from tourism. Missionaries who visited places as tourists spread their religion to many people. They built schools and worshiping places hence helping in uplifting lives of people.

Works Cited

Cohen, Erik. Contemporary Tourism: Diversity and Change. London: Emerald Group Publishing, 1971. Print.

Collins-Kreiner, Noga. Christian Tourism to the Holy Land: Pilgrimage During Security Crisis. New Jersey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd, 2006. Print.

Dallen, Timothy. Tourism, Religion and Spiritual Journeys. Michigan: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Dallen, Timothy J. Cultural Heritage and Tourism: An Introduction. London: Channel View Publications, 2011. Print.

Hsu, Cathy H, and Gartner William C. The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Research. Michigan: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Ivanovic, Milena. Cultural Tourism. Michigan: Juta and Company Ltd, 2009. Print.

Jafari, Jafar. Encyclopedia of Tourism. Michigan: Routledge, 2003. Print.

Raj, R, and Morpeth N D. Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage Management: An International Perspective. London: CABI, 2007. Print.

Scott, Noel, and Jafari Jafar. Tourism in the Muslim World. London: Emerald Group Publishing, 2010. Print.

Schott, Sarah B. Religious Tourism in America: Identity Formation of Sites and Visitors. New York: ProQuest, 2008. Print.

Stausberg, Michael. Religion and Tourism: Crossroads, Destinations and Encounters. Michigan: Routledge, 2010. Print.

Yamashita, Shinji. Bali and Beyond: Explorations in the Anthropology of Tourism. London: Berghahn Books, 2003. Print.

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