The environmental impacts of religious and spiritual tourism

Authored by: Kiran A. Shinde

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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No matter what the form of religious tourism, the influx of pilgrims, religious tourists, and other visitors exacts significant environmental impacts in religious tourism destinations and at sacred sites of all religions and faiths. It is important to recognise that the term ‘environment’ in the context of sacred places is much more than physical and natural, and its use crosses over to the social, cultural, and religious spheres (Lochtefeld 2010; Shinde 2011; Terzidou, Stylidis & Szivas 2008). Hence, it is unsurprising that many studies have examined impacts from social, cultural, economic, and religious dimensions, as well as physical and natural environment (Bleie 2003; Choe & Hitchcock 2018; Della Dora 2012; Hung, Yang, Wassler, Wang, Lin & Liu 2017; Shinde 2012b, 2018). In recent years, there have been more focused investigations into the environmental impacts of religious tourism (Ahammad, Sreekrishnan, Hands, Knapp & Graham 2014; Alipour, Olya & Forouzan 2017; Aminian 2012; Hanandeh 2013; Henderson 2011; Malodia & Singla 2017; Qurashi 2020; Sati 2015; Shinde 2007). This chapter provides a critical review of the emerging literature that focuses on the physicality of sacred place and the impacts of visitation on the physical elements of the sacred environment.

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