The complexities of religious tourism motivations: sacred places, vows and visions

Matina Terzidou, Caroline Scarles, Mark Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)
144 Downloads (Pure)


The aim of this paper is to understand the complexity of travel motivations to sacred places. Using ethnographic techniques within the Greek Orthodox context, we argue that while motivations are institutionally constructed, they are fragile, dynamic and progressive; being embedded within everyday performances of religion. This calls into question the fixed centeredness and predetermined sacredness of religious sites. Travel motivations become directly influenced by believers' intimate and emergent performances not only of places but also of religion itself; the meaning of places being based on lived experiences of doing religion and interacting with the sacred, as exemplified in vows and visions. Such understandings are crucial in predicting the effects of failing pilgrimages and the processes of authentication of places, which can help explain visitation patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54–65
Number of pages12
JournalAnnals of Tourism Research
Early online date14 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • tourism
  • Pilgrimage
  • travel


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