Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Social sciences

Publication Details

Paper presented at International conference on Pilgrimage and the Evolution of Spiritual Tourism at the Waterford Institute of Technology on the 9th of March, 2018


Despite growing interest in pilgrimage practices, scholars have argued that some changes in the traditional practice of pilgrimage are seen among modern pilgrims (Enongene & Griffin, 2017, p. 26), to include changes in the needs, expectations and purchasing behaviour of the typical faith-based visitor (Kartal et al., 2015). Likewise, the growing need for entertaining experiences and satisfaction from the spiritual renewal services as posited by Ambrose & Ovesenik (2011), is in stark contrast to traditional management practices at sacred sites. As well as pilgrimages, which involved leaving behind the pleasures of the earthly world and instead desiring the supernatural/heaven more than the comforts and enjoyments of this life (Enongene & Griffin, 2017, p. 26). Thus, this major shift in traditional forms of pilgrimage ritual to a more sophisticated ritualistic approach, questions the role which pilgrimage plays in the life of contemporary Christians (ibid. p. 27). And how this shift in pilgrimage practices is altering traditional management practices at sacred sites and what are the implications for effectively catering to these changing needs, while at the same time upholding traditional values at these ecclesiastical sites. Thus, in exploring this phenomenon observational techniques in conjunction with semi-structured interviews with key custodians across a diverse category (Monasteries, Shrines, Cathedrals etc.) of sacred sites in the Island of Ireland was conducted. Findings provided insightful accounts into how meeting the changing needs and expectations of the modern-day visitor has been challenging both positively and negatively, while prompting significant changes in the traditional management focus at these ecclesiastical sites. The study has significant implications for the effective management of contemporary sacred site visitors changing demands, where there is a need to understand the future of pilgrimages and the sustainability of these sacred places.

Selected readings:

Ambrose, M & Ovsenik, R. (2011) Tourist Origin and Spiritual Motives Management Vol.16 (2), pp. 71-86.

Enongene, V & Griffin, K. (2017). Christianity-Contemporary Christian Pilgrimage and Traditional Management Practices at Sacred Sites, in Leppakari, M and Griffin, K. Eds. Pilgrimage and Tourism to Holy Cities: Ideological and Management Perspectives, CABI, Wallingford, 25-44.

Kartal, B., Tepeci, M., & Atli, H. (2015). Examining the Religious Tourism Potential of Manisa, Turkey with a Marketing Perspective