Religion, pilgrimage and tourism in the Middle East

Authored by: Daniel H. Olsen

Routledge Handbook on Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa

Print publication date:  December  2018
Online publication date:  December  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138651920
eBook ISBN: 9781315624525
Adobe ISBN:


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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has a long and rich history of pilgrimage and religious tourism, having attracted pilgrims from both within and without the region for centuries. The Middle East is also characterised as having strong socio-cultural and political tensions that affect the religious travel to this area. The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the relationships, key issues and challenges regarding pilgrimage and religious tourism in the MENA region from a broad perspective. After discussing the similarities and differences between pilgrimage and religious tourism and how scholars and the tourism industry have tried to differentiate between those who travel for religious reasons and those who engage with religious culture for leisure and educational purposes, research themes related to the economic, political and social issues in this region that affect pilgrimage and religious tourism are discussed.

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