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Bali, a thousand temple island, is an ideal destination for spiritual tourism with magnificent temples containing a variety of unique religious carvings, statues, and ornaments. The beauty of Bali’s religious rituals, social and cultural events, and cultural performances underpin its spiritual tourism. An emerging body of literature has reported spiritual tourism and spiritual tourism is one of the pillars of sustainable tourism development (UNWTO, 2015). Religious tourism is a growing segment with significant economic impacts, however, limited research focuses on developing spiritual tourism and none of this in the North of Bali. This research takes a qualitative case study approach to investigate the potential of ancient religious sites in the North of Bali for religious tourism, and its use as a tool for sustainable development. Data were obtained through observations, documentation and in-depth interviews. This research involved twenty qualitative interviews with Bali tourism stakeholders, including community leaders, spiritual leaders and tourism officers. The research was guided by questions about the history of the temples; their ancient artefacts; the rules of the temple that tourists have to adhere to; how spiritual tourism could be developed in the North of Bali, and; how the local economy might benefit by the development of spiritual tourism. The findings show that the ancient religious sites in the North of Bali can be divided into three clusters based on the geography and the age of the temples: (1) the west cluster, which includes Pulaki Temple, Pemuteran Temple, Melanting Temple, Pabean Temple and KertaKawat Temple; (2) the center cluster which includes Pemulungan Agung Gobleg Temple and Labuan Aji Temple; and (3) the east cluster, which includes Puncak Sinunggal Temple and Ponjok Batu Temple. This study contributes to the emerging field of spiritual tourism by providing the historical aspect of each site, photos documentation, and an explanation of the history and spirit of the destination based on lontar (ancient manuscripts written on palm leaves). Finally, the paper provides recommendations on a strategy to develop spiritual tourism in the North of Bali and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
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Pageh, I Made; Rahmawati, Putu I. Ph.D; Delacy, Terry Prof. Dr.; and Jiang, Min Ph.D
"Ancient Religious Sites as Tools for Sustainable Tourism Development: An Empirical Study in the North of Bali,"
International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage:
1, Article 8.
Available at: https://arrow.tudublin.ie/ijrtp/vol10/iss1/8