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Abstract

COVID-19 is devastating the religious tourism industry in terms of economic, social, food, employment and faith related impacts. Pilgrimages are being stopped, and mass gatherings are halted. We are in middle of a very difficult time for the religious tourism industry and this has become a major concern for governments around the world. The leading nations such as USA, UK, Italy, Spain, Japan, Russia, Germany and China are struggling to control the COVID-19 pandemic. We are facing the biggest test of the tourism industry in over half a century, one which has exceeded the downturn of the 9/11 terrorism attacks. In the last 6-9 months, COVID-19 has had major ramifications for the religious tourism industry and impacted on other related industries like hotels, transport, travel agents and tour organisers, tour guides and all tourism service industries. The calamity of the COVID-19 pandemic is a new biological war that is being experienced by the whole world and the tourism industry is one of the major victim of this pandemic outbreak.

Academics, politicians, scientists, theologians, in fact all people are discussing the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of life. The pandemic impact is being experienced by all people regardless of state, religion, race, age or status. It is not first time, nor the last time that the world has been struck by a pandemic, but commentators suggest that a new world will emerge from this, and this new reality will offer new opportunities for the provision of experience by the tourism industry.

The implication of COVID-19 for pilgrimage to religious sites has been enormous, and has altered the thinking and beliefs of visitors. Due to limitations and controls imposed by governments, new forms to spirituality and worship have been introduced, and these lead to the development of alternative religious thinking. This paper seeks to clarify the impact of COVID-19 on the religious tourism industry and discusses the challenges experienced by travellers to religious destinations.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.

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