Tourism and spirituality

Green places, blue spaces, and beyond

Authored by: Richard Sharpley

The Routledge Handbook of Religious and Spiritual Tourism

Print publication date:  July  2021
Online publication date:  July  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367191955
eBook ISBN: 9780429201011
Adobe ISBN:


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It has long been recognized that people’s experiences with nature may elicit some sort of spiritual response (Szerszynski 2005). Equally, the positive effects of natural environments on both physical and mental well-being have also been understood since ancient times (Gesler 1993), although more general and recent awareness of their contribution to spiritual well-being coincides with the continuing decline in adherence to religious beliefs and practices since the early nineteenth century (Heelas & Woodhead 2005). As de Botton (2003: 171) observed,

It is no coincidence that the Western attraction to sublime landscapes developed at precisely the moment when traditional beliefs in God began to wane. It is as if these landscapes allowed travelers to experience transcendent feelings that they no longer felt in cities and the cultivated countryside. The landscapes offered them an emotional connection to a greater power, even as they freed them of the need to subscribe to the more specific and now less plausible claims of biblical texts and organized religions.

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