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Religious Tourism in Asia: Tradition and Change Through Case Studies and Narratives. CABI Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage Series

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The Asia-Pacific region is considered the world's religious core, with the greatest number of pilgrims and travellers to religious events for both international and domestic tourism. It is estimated that there are approximately 600 million national and international religious and spiritual voyages in the world, of which over half take place in Asia.ÊThis book focuses on tourism and sacred sites in Asia. Contemporary case studies of religious and pilgrimage activities provide key learning points and present practical examples from this 'hub' of pilgrimage destinations. They explore ancient, sacred and emerging tourist destinations and new forms of pilgrimage, faith systems and quasi-religious activities.ÊIt will be of interest to researchers within religious, cultural, heritage and Asian tourism.

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18 Chapters

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1 Religious Tourism and Sacred Sites in Asia



Religious Tourism and Sacred

Sites in Asia

Kevin Griffin1, Razaq Raj2,* and Shin Yasuda3

Dublin Institute of Technology; 2Leeds Beckett University, UK*;


Takasaki City University of Economics, Japan


Introduction: Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage in Asia

According to the UNWTO (2000, p. 22) there is a global trend for holidays to be more than recreational, with physical and mental rejuvenation increasingly expected. Spiritual rejuvenation is also a growing need. There is an above-average growth in religious tourism and this is clearly evident in Asia, with major religious icons such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the Buddhist temples in Korea, holy mountains in Japan, mosques in the former Soviet Union and Hindu sites in

India all experiencing expansion, development and increased numbers of tourists and pilgrims.

While the absolute scale of international pilgrims is extremely difficult to estimate, the number of 330 million was suggested by the


2 The Rise of Heritage and Religious Tourism to Sacred Sites in Oman



The Rise of Heritage and Religious

Tourism to Sacred Sites in Oman

Kristel Kessler and Razaq Raj*

Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK


Heritage tourism is considered to be one of the earliest forms of tourism, with religious travellers and pilgrims visiting burial sites, locations where miracles occurred, healing locations and holy cities (McKercher and Du Cros, 2012; Staiff et al., 2013; Hyung, 2014). Holy books and ancient records offer evidence of travels to view earlier cities and ancient sites (Timothy, 2011).

The Grand Tour is another key heritage tourism phenomenon, with men of a certain status travelling to European cities to learn about language, art, history and architecture. This is actually one of the earliest forms of mass-produced cultural tour (Timothy, 2011; Staiff et al., 2013; Hyung,

2014). Heritage tourism is a very vague, general and complex concept that is often difficult to define because there are probably as many definitions as there are different heritage tourists


3 Entrepreneurship for Religious Tourism in Mumbai, India



Entrepreneurship for Religious Tourism in Mumbai, India

Shin Yasuda*

Takasaki City University of Economics


In recent years, many Islamic tour operators have been established in Islamic countries and have gained tremendous popularity among

Muslims, both within and outside Islamic states

(Yasuda, 2013). These companies are typically known as hamla, qafila, karwan or Muslim travel agencies, and they earn profits from organizing, selling and operating religious tours. Religious excursions range from pilgrimages to Makkah

(hajj and umrah) and visits to holy sites (ziyara), to leisure travel based on Islamic values, which are all included in the terms ‘Islamic tourism’,

‘Islamic travels’ or ‘Muslim-friendly tourism’. The operators have played a central role in the expansion of religious tourism in the Islamic world by establishing business networks with related stakeholders such as religious sites, religious figures and organizations, as well as hotels, transportation providers and other related tourism companies.


4 Spiritual Tourism in Sufism in South Asia



Spiritual Tourism in Sufism in South Asia

Syed Amjad Farid Hasnu and Saad Aslam*

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Abbottabad, Pakistan


This chapter identifies the importance of travelling in Sufism and focuses on spiritual tourism.

For spiritual development, Muslims travel to meet people, or they travel and visit graves of spiritual, pious individuals in order to consider how holy people bore hardship to protect and spread

Islam. When these graves are visited, the experience enhances their spiritual development. Those religious, pious men spent their lives in those places serving their religion; it is due to them that we can see Islam spreading across the world.

Spiritual Tourism

Spiritual tourism falls under the heading of religious tourism. Religious tourism is that type of tourism where people travel individually or in groups for pilgrimage, missionary or leisure (fellowship) purposes. This tourism is exclusively for religious reasons. It includes visits to religious conferences and ceremonies. People travel locally, regionally, nationally and internationally for religious tourism, travelling with the intention of gaining spiritual meaning and growth without any religious compulsion, which could be religious, non-religious, sacred or experiential


5 Religious Tourism in Azerbaijan: Current Challenges



Religious Tourism in Azerbaijan:

Current Challenges

Darius Liutikas*

Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Lithuania


Despite secularization, the phenomenon of religious tourism becomes more and more important; it involves people consuming narratives of places, which encapsulate their need for cultural and personal experiences. This chapter deals with the analysis of religious tourism possibilities in Azerbaijan. The potential for international travellers is presented. Analysis includes historical background and a reflection on the contemporary challenges of visiting religious places in relation to the themes of the country’s history and heritage development.

Azerbaijan is a country in south Caucasus, located near to the largest lake in the world, the

Caspian Sea, which is to the east of this almost

10 million-population country. Today Azerbaijan is a secular country, which has predominant

Muslim religious communities, but also some


6 The Sacred in Caves and Mountains: Animist and Christian Interfaces in the Philippines



The Sacred in Caves and Mountains:

Animist and Christian Interfaces in the Philippines

Honey Libertine Achanzar Labor*

University of the Philippines, Manila


Encounters between man and the supernatural in caves or on mountaintops are common in folklore and religion. In fact, narratives and practices that touch on the environment as a space of encounter with the sacred almost always have a reference to caves and mountains.

Such is the case in the Philippines.

Sacred caves and mountains have remained significant in the archipelago from its animistic pre-hispanic past to its Christianized and secularized present. Caves are still sites of meetings and rituals. A number of stalactites and stalagmites in Philippine caves are laden with Christian symbolism, and the belief that caves are dwelling-­ places of spirits abounds.

With the belief in the occupation of caves by spirits, some men enter them during Holy Week to look for charms and talismans. Folk medical practitioners, likewise, enter caves during Holy


7 Religious Tourism in the Ideological Framework of Chinese Tourism Education



Religious Tourism in the Ideological

Framework of Chinese Tourism Education

Maximiliano E. Korstanje1,* and Babu P. George2

University of Palermo, Argentina; 2Fort Hays State University, USA



China has grown over recent decades to become an economic superpower. The Chinese grand agenda is to displace the USA from its hegemonic place in the economic pyramid. In alignment with this aim, Chinese universities have largely succeeded in situating themselves at the top of the established academic ranking. This chapter deals with the rise and expansion of Chinese presence in tourism-related studies as well as the limitations of Chinese tourism scholars in conducting applied research, particularly in religious tourism. The communist ideology pervading the

Chinese education system provides an overarching influence upon what to teach and how. Religion being a quasi-capitalistic force, Chinese educational thinkers do not consider it ethical to teach it to students; yet market forces present tremendous opportunities for the exploitation of the country’s religious and cultural heritage.


8 Religious Tourism: The Beginning of a New Era with Special Reference to India



Religious Tourism: The Beginning of a New Era with Special Reference to India

Rumki Bandyopadhyay* and Kushagra Rajendra

Amity University, Haryana, Gurugram, India


The travel and tourism industry contributes

US$7.6 trillion to the global economy, but India is ranked 40 among: Europe and Eurasia, the

Asia-Pacific countries, the Americas, the Middle

East, north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, with

Europe leading the industry (World Economic

Forum, 2017). However, India’s rank has jumped

12 points ahead in the index, whereas Japan and

China are ranked 4th and 15th, respectively.

Spain, France and Germany continued to top the

Index (Financial Express, 2017). Countries such as the Maldives, Greece, Bermuda, Italy, Spain,

Switzerland and the Caribbean islands take their chief income from inbound tourists (Prasad and

Rani, 2015). The global travel industry remains stable. Growth is led by Asia, with modest growth in the USA, Europe and emerging destinations such as Brazil and Russia; and this despite terror attacks and political unrest worldwide. Tourism destinations, globally, witnessed 956 million international visitors during the first nine months of 2016. This amounts to a 4% increase compared to the previous year.


9 Pilgrimage and Historical Tourism on West Java: Learning about History



Pilgrimage and Historical Tourism on

West Java: Learning about History

Jörgen Hellman*

School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University, Sweden


This chapter provides a broad introduction to pilgrimage on Java. The aim is to familiarize the reader with Javanese traditions of learning about self and society through travel. To illustrate this, the ethnographic focus is on a group of pilgrims who visit the sacred site of a local ancestor to learn more about themselves and the ancient Sundanese kingdom of Pajajaran.

For many Sundanese (the ethnic majority of west Java, Indonesia), the last Hindu kingdom on west Java, Pajajaran, and its king, Siliwangi, carry great significance – they symbolize strength, unity and prosperity. However, in the mid-16th century, this kingdom fell, so its history is also one of defeat and subjugation to growing Islamic and colonial powers, although some describe this as just a temporary suppression. However, according to popular folklore, Siliwangi did not die but disappeared mysteriously just before the empire collapsed, and he promised to return in the future.


10 To Own the Sacred, to Control the People: A Case Study of the Mahābodhi Temple Complex in Bodhgayā, India



To Own the Sacred, to Control the

People: A Case Study of the Mahābodhi

Temple Complex in Bodhgayā, India

Nikhil Joshi*

National University of Singapore


The Mahābodhi Temple and its immediate surrounding landscape are inherently not sacred places; they are ordinary physical places that have been established and strengthened over time as extraordinary, mainly through dynamic ritual–architectural relationships. This is not just an assertion; in the following study I will qualify it by assessing the attributes of sacredness. I have made this statement at the beginning of this chapter to highlight the theoretical problem that since ‘sacred’ is generally associated with ‘supernatural’, construction and constitution of a sacred place must be devoid of the profane

(non-religious or secular) forces. This chapter will argue that since ‘sacred’ or ‘supernatural’ have multivalent meanings in different religions or even different sects of the same religion, it is highly likely that a sacred place could be interpreted in several different and even conflicting ways by communities who may use the term to denote various religious and secular concepts – social, political and economic. Therefore, it is vital that the sacredness of a place should not be interpreted only in terms of architecture and canonical scriptures but also by the ways in which its users interact with it socially, culturally and politically, and form various identities through


11 Branding the Buddha’s Birthplace: Exploring Nepal’s Potential to Become a Destination of Global Buddhist Tourism


11   Branding the Buddha’s Birthplace:

Exploring Nepal’s Potential to Become a Destination of Global Buddhist Tourism

Dharma Adhikari1,* and Juyan Zhang2

Shantou University, China; 2University of Texas at San Antonio, USA



Faith-based tourism has emerged as a significant tourism niche, both domestically and internationally. The United Nations World Tourism

Organization estimates that over 300 million tourists visit the world’s major religious sites each year (UNWTO, 2014). In Asia, where 99% of the world’s 450–480 million Buddhists reside, Buddhism serves as an example of the resurgence of faith-based tourism. In India, arrivals from Buddhist countries in 2011 comprised over

18% of the total of 6.3 million (IFC, 2014, p. 31).

Countries in east Asia and south-east Asia, where a sizeable Buddhist population resides, have adopted a variety of strategies to promote Buddhist tourism. The Chinese government’s campaign of


12 Religious Migrations in Contemporary Central Asia



Religious Migrations in Contemporary Central Asia

Gulnara Mendikulova* and Evgeniya Nadezhuk*

Satbayev University and Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan


Religious Tourism in Central Asia

Contemporary development of so-called religious migration and religious tourism in

­central Asia has a good historical background and huge potential. Actually, all regions of central Asia have their own uniqueness, which is why you can meet with pilgrims there, and especially on the old Great Silk

Road. For many centuries, the Silk Road was a caravan road, a route for Muslim, Buddhist and Christian missionaries, a crossroads of

­civilizations, etc. The Silk Road linked peoples and states. The route from China and India passed through Kazakhstan to the Middle East and Europe.

There are many old cities (Turkestan – the second Mecca in central Asia, Balasagun, Otrar, and others), mausoleums (Arystan Baba, Khoja


13 Religious Festival in Tourism: A Comparative Perspective of the Aobao Festival



Religious Festival in Tourism:

A Comparative Perspective of the Aobao Festival

Jingjing Yang* and Lingyun Zhang

Beijing International Studies University, China


Touirsm Impacts and Determinants

The purpose of this chapter is to examine the extent of tourism impact considering the mechanism of some determinants. Government sponsorship is especially considered in a Chinese context. Currently, most studies of tourism impact use quantative methods, asking respondents to illustrate the extent using the

Likert scale. Based on one year’s ethnographic research in Kanas’s Tuva and Kazakh settlements, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region,

China, this study discusses the development of religious culture and its impacts on the Tuva group by providing a comparison of a religious ceremony – the Aobao festival – held at different villages with different levels of tourism development.

This study uses qualitative methods. From a community perspective, the development of the Aobao festival is illustrated to explain the


14 To Brand Gandhara, the Ancient Buddhist Centre: Pakistan’s Potential to Develop Buddhist Tourism



To Brand Gandhara, the Ancient

Buddhist Centre: Pakistan’s Potential to Develop Buddhist Tourism

Juyan Zhang

University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas, USA


(NMG) as an interim governing board for the multi-million dollar effort, with the Nobel laureate

The turn of the 21st century saw a resurgence and Harvard University professor Amartya Sen of the global dissemination of Buddhism. The as the chairman. The Indian parliament passed

Asian nations that have a rich Buddhist legacy, a bill in August 2010 approving plans to rebuild such as India, China, South Korea, Thailand and the university. The Indian government has comJapan, have competed to tap the faith as a diplo- mitted US$10 million to the project’s launch. matic resource to boost their soft power. Cultural The group agreed that ‘in a period which is organizations and Buddhist institutions in these witnessing the re-emergence of Asia as an ecocountries have also actively engaged in the pro- nomic hub, Nalanda has the potential of becommotion of the faith. One of the major strategies ing a beacon of global understanding and world adopted by these Buddhist diplomacy campaigns peace’ (Zhang, 2012).


15 Nankana Sahib as ‘A Symbol of Religious Coexistence’



Nankana Sahib as ‘A Symbol of Religious Coexistence’

Abdus Sattar Abbasi

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Lahore, Pakistan


Every year, thousands of Sikh pilgrims arrive at

Wagah, a festive border between two contending neighbours. The roar and enthusiasm during the daily flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah is indicative of the psychological friction between two nations. On the other side, the smiling faces of thousands of devotees reflects the cheerful pilgrimage experience they always enjoy during their sacred journey to Pakistan. Some of the visitors have been known to declare vocally that their stay was as pleasant as if they were in their own homes. These worshippers intend to visit a number of religious sites in Pakistan. However, their main objective remains to visit Gurdwara

Nankana Sahib and Gurdwara Panja Sahib.

After the death of his father, Rai Bular Bhatti appointed Kalyan Chand sobriquet Mehta Kalu to look after his agricultural land. His wife gave birth to a child on 15 April 1469 named Nanak. Innocent and unusual habits of Nanak during his early childhood attracted the attention of Rai Bular


16 The Destination Marketing Development of Religious Tourism in Uzbekistan: A Case Study



The Destination Marketing

Development of Religious Tourism in Uzbekistan: A Case Study

Bakhtiyor Navruz-zoda* and Zebiniso Navruz-zoda

Bukhara State University, Bukhara, Uzbekistan


In terms of overcoming the impacts of the global financial crisis, an important socioeconomic problem is to keep and create new workplaces to tackle unemployment. This problem can be mitigated somewhat through diversification of tourism activities. Innovative and effective diversification can arise from the development of religious tourism based on Sufi interests. In recent years, especially among young people and intellectuals in European countries, Islam has spread largely due to Sufism.

Sufism is a Muslim religious and philosophical doctrine that developed in the Arab countries in the eighth century. The reason for the development of Sufism was the social conditions in Muslim countries. Sufism contains elements of the new doctrine of Plato (platonic love).


17 Religion and Religious Tourism: A Case Study of Kerala



Religion and Religious Tourism:

A Case Study of Kerala

Subhash Kizhakanveatil Bhaskaran Pillai*

Department of Commerce, Goa University, Goa, India


It is a well-known fact that India is the birthplace of Hinduism, more aptly described as a way of living rather than a religion. It is ancient, yet living, and widely practised by more than 1 billion people, or around 13.95% of the world’s population. India is also known as the ‘Land of Temples’, famous across the globe for its beautiful architecture and sculptures, and these are some of the most important tourism products, attracting

­millions of tourists from around the world.

The reason why India is considered the

Land of Temples is because from time immemorial Indians believed and practised the sacred proverb from the Vedic period, ‘Gopura dharshan, koti punyam’ (‘The sight of a temple tower gives you ten million good things’). That is the main reason why most Hindu houses are located close to temples and have a separate pooja room in order to have the presence of the Almighty in the house. In other words, visits to temples became part-and-parcel of the Indian way of life, which is, in essence, the origin of pilgrimage and spiritual tourism in India. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive information available with respect to the exact number of Hindu temples in and around India (Swaminathan, 2017).


18 Discussion Questions



Discussion Questions

Please note, some of these questions can be answered fully in relation to the chapter in this book. However, many of them will require the student/reader to engage with the broader literature to explore and develop their ideas further.

Chapter 2

How are heritage and religious tourism used as tools by the tourism industry?

How can heritage/tourism result in the inappropriate overuse and commodification of religious sites, and how can this exploitation be mitigated?

What are the risks, and the related potential benefits, in developing tourism in Oman?

Chapter 4

Chapter 3


Discuss the management strategy of entrepreneurs in the field of religious tourism by  focusing on their interactions with


Examine the impact of entrepreneurship in religious tourism by specifically investigating the relationship between producers and consumers.



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