Spirituality and tourism

Document Type

Book Chapter




School of Business and Law


Originally published as: Willson, G., & McIntosh, A. (2019). Spirituality and tourism. In L. Zsiknai & B. Flanagan (Eds.), The Routledge international handbook of spirituality in society and the professions (pp. 103-110). London, England: Routledge. Original publication available here


Spirituality and travel are inextricably related. The roots of modern tourism can be found in early pilgrimages and other religiously motivated journeys (Timothy and Olsen 2006). Consider, for example, the millions of devout Muslims who travel to Mecca, or Christians and Jews who find solace in places such as Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Over recent decades, a major contributor to the evolving spiritual landscape has been the increase in secularism, particularly in the Western world (Timothy and Olsen 2006), and the emergence of more humanistic or nature-based beliefs, such as those concerned with the New Age movement (Islam 2012). In addition, there has been a surge in the commodification of Eastern spiritual practices and philosophies in the West (Bone 2015). These evolutions, in addition to globalization and multiculturalism, have changed the nature of the relationship between spirituality and travel in contemporary society, leaving a more diverse, broader context for examining their relationship. © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Laszlo Zsolnai and Bernadette Flanagan; individual chapters, the contributors. All rights reserved.