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Services Marketing Quarterly, 30:148173, 2009 Copyright # Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1533-2969 print=1533-2977 online

DOI: 10.1080/15332960802619181

Lotus-Eaters, Pilgrims, Seekers, and Accidental Tourists: How Different Travelers Consume the Sacred and the Profane
University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama

North Georgia College and State University, Dahlonega, Georgia

University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama

Travelers visit destinations that are associated with organized religion for a variety of reasons. Building on Cohens (2003) work, we categorize visitors to religious travel destinations as: (1) seekers who intend to visit both religious and secular tourist sites, (2) lotus-eaters who intend to visit only secular tourist sites, (3) pilgrims who intend to visit only religious tourist sites, and (4) accidental tourists who intend to visit neither type of tourist site. We use these four types of tourists to accomplish three aims: (1) explain each type of traveler, (2) explain the interaction between religious and secular elements at travel sites, and (3) provide guidelines for attracting each type of traveler. KEYWORDS Israel, religious pilgrimage, tourism, travel experience tourism, religious

Travel represents an enormous portion of the world economy. In 2003 spending on tourism accounted for approximately 6 percent of world exports
The authors thank Carol Megehee for her helpful comments on this manuscript and Alison Wojiecowski for transcribing the depth interviews. Address correspondence to Robert A. Orwig, DBA, North Georgia College & State University, Mike Cottrell College of Business, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega, GA 30597. E-mail: 148

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and about 30 percent of world service exports (World Tourism Organization, 2007). The World Tourism Organization (WTO) estimates that worldwide spending on travel equals about $2 billion per day. Furthermore, travel continues to grow at a rapid pace. In 1950 there were a mere 25 million worldwide international arrivals. By 2006, the number had grown to 840 million international arrivals (UNWTO Secretary-General Opens FITUR, 2007). People travel for many different reasons. The WTO estimates that approximately half of international tourism is for recreation. Business travel accounts for about 16 percent. Meanwhile, a variety of motives account for another 26 percent of travel; these motives include religion, visiting friends or family, and travel for healthcare. (The WTO was unable to classify the remaining 8 percent of travelers). And yet, researchers have often overlookedor looked disapprovingly at tourism in general, and religious tourism in particular. For instance, Boorstin (1964) dismisses the majority of tourists, the recreational travelers, as . . . shallow, superficial, trivial, and often frivolous . . . (Cohen, 1979, 184). While cultural critics are often dismissive of tourists, there has been a lack of focus on the economic consequences of religious tourism. This is particularly surprising, given that some of the first travel agencies focused on providing services to travelers undertaking religious pilgrimages (Lunn, 1963; Martyn, 1972). Furthermore, scholars estimate that religious experience tourism (RET) accounts for $18 billion in annual spending (International Conference on Religious Tourism, 2006). Nevertheless, the economic aspects of religious travel have been the least studied topic in relation to the religiontourism crossover (Timothy & Olsen, 2006, 10). Perhaps as a result of these oversights, many potential tourist destinations have yet to reach more than a small fraction of their potential (Alavi & Yasin, 2000). Since religion-imbued destinations may attract visitors on an emotional, intellectual, and=or spiritual level (Haahti & Yavas, 2005), the marketing of these destinations may present unique challenges. Not only must the marketer decide on which level to approach these travelers, but also how to market effectively to them without causing offense for seeming overly commercial. It has only been in recent decades that certain religious organizations have begun to use marketing techniques to recruit and retain followers (Vokurka, McDaniel, & Cooper, 2002), thus some RET travelers may still view the link between religion and marketing as tenuous. Some studies suggest that young adults are more receptive to such messages (Rodrigue, 2002), but that the more traditional church member views such practices as trivializing the importance of the sacred (Belk, Wallendorf, & Sherry, 1989). Given the complexity and unique challenges of RET, religious destinations require more guidance from researchers. This article helps improve our understanding of RET by explaining the different motives that drive travelers to visit religious destinations. Cohen (2003) developed a four-cell taxonomy to classify travelers based on


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their participation in religious and secular travel experiences to include (a) religion, (b) tourism, (c) religion and tourism, and (d) other types of travel experiences. We further develop and expand this taxonomy to categorize travelers as (1) seekers who intend to visit both religious and secular tourist sites, (2) lotus-eaters who intend to visit only secular tourist sites, (3) pilgrims who intend to visit only religious tourist sites, and (4) accidental tourists who intend to visit neither type of tourist site. Using the four cells, we help fill in the blanks in the RET literature in several ways: 1. We add depth to Cohens four-cell taxonomy. Depth interviews with travelers allow us to provide readers with a deeper understanding of the thoughts and motivations of each type of traveler. While Cohens focus was on devising the four-cell classification, our focus in on explaining the travelers of each cell. 2. In addition to describing each individual cell, we contrast the perspectives held by travelers in the four groups. Through a combination of neglect and disdain for secular tourism, scholars have made few such comparisons in the past. Restated, we are interested in examining the interaction of the sacred and the profane for each type of traveler. 3. We provide a set of recommendations for businesses that wish to serve each type of customer. Many scholars have noted that the RET literature provides few guidelines for businesses. To accomplish these goals, we conducted depth interviews with twenty-two travelers who had visited RET destinations for a variety of reasons. We proceed as follows: first, we review prior research on travel, tourism, and religion. Second, we describe the method that we used to examine the taxonomies classifying travelers to religious destinations. Third, we expand upon Cohens taxonomy and list managerial implications for dealing with each type of traveler. We conclude with a summary and a discussion of possible extensions from our research.

SCHOLARS ON TRAVEL, TOURISTS, AND RELIGION Religious Tourism: An Uneasy Alliance with Commerce
Scholars note that religious travel has been a large business for centuries (Thielmann, 1987; Turner & Turner, 1978). In medieval Europe, for instance, religious pilgrimage was often the only permissible rationale for the peasantry to travel (Thielmann, 1987). Contemporary religious tourists have become more demanding, but are willing to pay more to have the religious travel experiences that they desire (International Conference on Religious Tourism, 2006; Timothy, 2006a).

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Today, religious tourism is so pervasive that we often fail to notice its prevalence. Consider the following facts:
. . . .

Each year approximately 2.5 million Muslim pilgrims visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia; In 2001 approximately 75 million Hindu pilgrims made the Kumbha Mela pilgrimage in India; Lourdes, France, attracted 6 million visitors in 2005; The Vatican estimates that between 220 million and 250 million pilgrims visit Roman Catholic religious sites each year (Yunis, 2006).

Many religions draw a sharp distinction between profane or everyday objects and sacred objects that believers imbue with religious meaning (Belk, Wallendorf, & Sherry, 1989). Traditionally, tourism has been profane, while religious pilgrimage has been sacred. To many religions:
. . . tourists are seen as sinful, lustful, promiscuous, and lacking in common sense, and tourism is seen as a force that promotes idolatry, laziness, immorality and drunkenness. By the same token religious organizations have eschewed tourism because it is seen to commodify religion, to put holy places into the spotlight for mass consumption, and to make holy things unholy. (Timothy, 2006b, 12)

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that scholars have been slow to recognize the need to examine the commercial aspects of religion (Hirschman, 1982a, 1982b). This oversight leaves us with few principles for effectively marketing religious experience tourism. Consider some of the management challenges confronting the tourism industry. Tourism is an inherently cyclical industry. Spending on tourism comes from discretionary income; therefore, tourism revenues vary dramatically across the business cycle. Further, events in tourist destinations affect the willingness of tourists to visit those destinations. Israel, a prime destination for religious tourists, has seen dramatic fluctuations in its tourism industry due to the continuing violence in the Middle East (Travel and Tourism in Israel, 2005). Another problem at RET destinations is providing a satisfying experience both to tourists who travel for religious reasons and to those who are traveling for other purposes. Religious tourism has always been an uneasy marriage of the sacred and the profane. Since religious tourism coincides in time and place with secular tourism, both types of travelers may visit the same religiousor secularsites. It comes as no surprise, then, that it is increasingly difficult to discern the differences in religious and secular tourists (Timothy, 2006a) and unfortunately scholars provide little help in discerning those differences.


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Fortunately, there is some indication that interest in this topic is increasing. October 2006 saw the First International Conference on Religious Tourism (Icoret) in Nicosia, Cyprus. Scholars have noted that many of the principles that help businesses build successful secular tourist sites are often counterproductive if one attempts to attract visitors who are traveling in order to visit religious tourist sites. Visitors interested in religion: 1. often like to visit sites that are crowded. Large groups of like-minded people help enhance the religious aspects of the experience; 2. enjoy traveling in groups more than secular tourists. Again, experiencing a religious site with fellow believers adds to the religious experience for many religious tourists; 3. may prefer tourist sites that are relatively inaccessible. Making an effort to reach a site may enhance the sites religious qualities for some visitors; 4. are particularly sensitive to the commercial aspects of religious sites and their immediate surroundings. Religious tourists take a dim view of sites that are overly commercialized (Martyn, 1972; see also Timothy, 2006b). A number of religious sites and organizations have taken tentative steps toward participation in the commercial side of tourism. Specifically, some of these sites are attempting to increase the revenues they generate from tourism. Religious sites commonly use the following means to obtain revenues from tourism: 1. 2. 3. 4. Sale of souvenirs, Sale of food, Admission fees (or suggested donations), Sale of media and services to help tourists understand the site (these media include brochures, guides, rental of audio tours, etc.), and 5. Accommodations for visitors (Timothy, 2006b). The growing RET literature includes a number of insights into the evolving travel industry. One trend that influences the business of travel is that people are taking more trips away from home, but are staying away fewer days on each trip. Potential tourist sites work on the principle of cumulative attraction; the more attractions they offer potential visitors, the larger the number of visitors they will attract. Contemporary travelers are becoming increasingly demanding as time passes (Fernandes, 2006). Travel is a very competitive industry. Sites are always looking for ways to enhance their revenues. Five common objectives of tourist sites (that apply equally well to religious and secular destinations) include: 1. getting visitors to come during the off season when tourists typically do not visit,

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2. 3. 4. 5.

getting visitors to stay longer, finding ways to attract visitors with narrow or specialized interests, getting visitors to spend more money, obtaining visitors from countries (or regions) that have traditionally not sent large numbers of visitors to the site (Fernandes, 2006).

Tourism sites also have to balance consumers desire for both comfort and adventure. Fernandes (2006) labels this soft adventure. Furthermore, travelers are attracted to tourist sites that are unique; a tourist site needs to promote those features that make it stand out from other tourist sites. In addition to building cumulative attraction, then, each site also needs to find a unique selling proposition.

Current Theory: Scholars on Tourists as Consumers

You can sum up the process by which consumers make travel-related choices in one word: complex. Researchers have strong feelings about the lens through which scholars should examine travel-related consumption. Specifically, scholars advocate examining consumers Tourism Consumption Systems (TCSs); the TCS includes the consumers thoughts, decisions, and behaviors . . . prior to, during, and following a trip (Woodside & Dubelaar, 2002, 120). Examining travel choices through a consumers TCS allows the scholar to understand the tourists entire experience, rather than focusing on limited aspects of that experience. The TCS perspective helps explain the complexities inherent in understanding travel decisions. Using the TCS is consistent with the idea that consumers preferences and perceptions should serve as the foundation of tourism policy. While this is a good start, scholars also emphasize that we must delve into tourists decision processes in order to understand why they make particular travel choices. After managers of a destination understand what attracts consumers to their destination, they must then attempt to understand consumers perceptions of competing destinations (Woodside & Lysonski, 1989). A final complication arises for researchers studying travel and consumption: people may not be conscious of all of the factors that influence their travel choices (Woodside, Caldwell, & Spurr, 2006). Though it is possible to draw many parallels between travel decisions and other consumption decisions, travel consumption decisions are unique. For one thing, for many travel-related expenses, the traveler spends his or her money with no expectation of material return. The traveler pays for a servicean intangible utility. Further, leisure travel often requires people to pay large sums of money that they have saved over many years (Moutinho, 1987). The traveler also must consider a number of factors (culture shock,


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international relations, economic conditions, dietary concerns, etc.) that are not present in other consumption situations. In the branding literature, one finds a competing lens for viewing tourism that relates to RET. Some authors hold that certain types of tourism help companies establish their brands. Firms often use Consumer Experience Tourism (CET) (manufacturing plant tours, company museums and company visitor centers) as a strategic tool to cultivate brand loyalty (Mitchell & Orwig, 2002). Such experience-based tourism is similar to RET in several ways. As the CET and RET names imply, both types of tourism are based on the customers direct interaction with the firm (or destination). Furthermore, CET is a growing aspect of companies attempts to brand themselves. The growth of RET suggests that similar positive branding occurs for the religions involved. For many people, the experience of a religious tour solidifies their religious convictions; sometimes RET vastly increases the commitment of participating travelers. Therefore, authors view RET as a logical extension of CET (Orwig, Mitchell, & Finney, 2003; Mitchell & Mitchell, 2001). Many factors cause travelers to choose one destination over another. Raymore (2002) posits that three types of variables can encourage or inhibit a persons ability to travel: (a) intrapersonal factors unique to the individual, (b) interpersonal factors that relate to the individuals relationships with other people, and (c) structural events in society as a whole. Only by understanding each, can we appreciate how the person made a particular choice. Above all, travel research confirms that destinations must abide by one of marketings basic principles if they hope to attract visitors; destinations must select their target market(s) with care and craft appropriate messages for those segments. Destinations that tell tourists that they have it all are unlikely to succeed (Woodside & Dubelaar, 2002). Moreover, managers must be very careful in allocating expenditures for customer segments; research reveals that some segments of travelers are more sensitive (i.e., likely to respond) to travel promotions than are other segments (Woodside & Motes, 1981).

Current Theory: The Religious Tourist as Consumer

One stream of literature on the religious travel experience focuses on the journey itself. Specifically, scholars concentrate on the emotional connection that may develop between religious pilgrims as they travel to a religious site. One influential theory proposes that pilgrims develop strong positive feelings for each other while on religious journeys; Turner developed this theory and labeled the feeling that develops between pilgrims communitas (1973). Turners theory, however, has been highly controversial. Some scholars argue that feelings of communitas are much rarer than Turner allows. In many cases, Turners critics argue, while pilgrims espouse feelings of communitas,

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they often hide negative emotions that they hold toward their fellow pilgrims (Bilu, 1988). Along with examining feelings pilgrims hold toward other pilgrims, a number of scholars have examined the interaction between the pilgrims and the local population that they visit. Researchers have long acknowledged that travel often changes those who journey away from home (e.g., Wilson, 1993). However, studies now suggest that the visitors can also influence the local populations in the places that they visit (Belhassen & Santos, 2006). Scholars acknowledge that there are many variables that influence travelers perceptions; this makes it very difficult to understand the interaction between tourism and the local societies (Bilu, 1988; Sallnow, 1981). As noted, religious authorities distinguish between profane and sacred objects. Recently, many commentators have noted that the line between the sacred and the profane has become less distinct (e.g., OGuinn & Belk, 1989; Timothy, 2006b). Particularly relevant to tourism is the fact that commercial activities are increasingly intertwined with religion. In one sense, this union is a sharp departure from traditional Christian teaching that emphasized the profane nature of commercial culture. In another sense, the joining of the sacred and the profane merely acknowledges ties between religion and commerce that have always existed (OGuinn & Belk, 1989; see also Weber, 1958). Scholars also note that when a consumer sacralizes an object that person (perhaps inadvertently) reveals a great deal about his or her beliefs. So, our selection of sacred objects is value-expressive; consumption is not strictly utilitarian. More specifically, scholars note that sacralization of material objects provides several benefits to believers: (a) an increasinglymeaningful existence, (b) social cohesion, and (c) social integration with fellow believers (Belk, Wallendorf, & Sherry, 1989).

Cohens (2003) Taxonomy

Erik H. Cohens (2003) work draws heavily on Erik Cohen (1979), who proposes that travel is not merely (a) a completely superficial lark or (b) a completely serious, existential quest for authenticity. Instead, Cohen (1979) proposes that travel can encompass elements of both. Erik H. Cohen (2003) finds that American students who study in Israel do so for disparate reasons. Specifically, he says that the students motives are: (a) religion, (b) tourism, (c) both, and (d) neither. The result is a two-cell by two-cell taxonomy. As stated, Cohens (2003) focus is on deriving the four-cell matrix; our focus is on helping explain the feelings and motivations of the members of each cell. Moreover, we are interested in extending Cohens (2003) work in several ways. First, Cohen examines a very small subset of


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travelers: American Jewish undergraduate students who chose to study for at least a semester in Israel. We want to see what sort of insights we can gain from groups of older, less homogeneous travelers. Second, each of Cohens respondents stayed in Israel for a minimum of several months; we are interested in how the more typical, short-term traveler responds to RET. Finally, all of Cohens respondents were young Jews, who studied in Israel over a considerable period of time. We wonder whether he truly had a sufficient sample of respondents who were uninterested in religion. Will our secular tourists differ from Cohens in their perspectives?


Grounded theory is a paradigm that guides researchers; grounded theory is a form of qualitative research (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). One of the most distinctive aspects of grounded theory is that it is inductive; as opposed to traditional researchers, who start with a theory (i.e., work deductively), grounded theorists start by gathering data on a general subject and only then attempt to generalize and (sometimes) create theories. At its best, grounded theory allows the researcher to consider what his or her data really mean; therefore, researchers using grounded theory must excel at critical thinking. At the same time, grounded theorists believe that traditional research often suffers from over analysis of data. That is, sometimes meaning is lost when researchers attempt to quantify responses from different people. Researchers using grounded theory often publish respondents actual words, so as not to impose the researchers biases into the study. Several aspects of grounded theory made it appealing to us. The first is that the in-depth responses necessary for a grounded theory provide an excellent means for studying peoples ability to influence their world. The second is that grounded theorists take the attitude that human society is continually evolving; given that many religions stress that faith is a journey in which people refine their beliefs as they come to know God, grounded theory is a relevant tool to study religion. Finally, the primary objective of grounded theorists is to discover new theories and insights (Strauss & Corbin, 1990); certainly, this is consistent with our goals for this manuscript. Specifically, we wanted to (a) understand how an individuals religious beliefs influence his or her behavior while traveling, (b) understand how those beliefs evolve as the person experiences a new culture, and (c) hopefully, contribute to new theory on the interaction between travel and tourism. The most important aspect of grounded theory, however, was that it allowed us to dispense with crafting a theory at the beginning of the process.

How Travelers Consume the Sacred and the Profane


We wanted to observe everything first. In doing so, we took our influence out of the research findings and allowed the respondents to speak. Later, we began to look for common themes in the transcripts.

Depth Interviews
We conducted a series of depth interviews with twenty-two travelers who had a variety of views on religion. If one includes the trips discussed for this study, all of the respondents had traveled outside the United States. A description of the interviewees follows:
. .

Twenty of the travelers had visited Israel. One had lived in Israel for four years. Nine of the respondents mentioned international trips that they had taken prior to the trip they discussed for this manuscript. Of these nine, three respondents mentioned that their prior travels were for religious purposes. Two of the respondents mentioned that they had made an international trip since completing the international trip mentioned in this study. Of these two, one mentioned that the trip was for religious purposes. In addition to Israel, respondents had also visited many other destinations: Belarus, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Russia, Mexico, and Moldova. Two respondents mentioned that they had visited a particular regionEurope and the Middle Eastbut did not specify which countries. Several respondents mentioned that they had lived overseas or taken extended trips of over one month to countries including Israel, Japan, and Vietnam. One woman had been a teacher in Africa, but did not specify in which country. The respondents traveled for a variety of reasons. The majority of the travelers who were interested in seeing religious sites went to Israel on a trip sponsored by a Southern Baptist Church. One of the Baptists was a pastor who had made five trips to Israel, often leading other Baptists. Another traveler went to Israel strictly for professional reasons, and lived there four years. One woman lived in Japan due to her husbands job. Another was a businessman who had no intentions of visiting religious or secular sites on his travels. (Not surprisingly, then, the tourists intention to visit religious sites varied by traveler). Likewise, the tourists differed in their intention to visit secular sites on their trips. Many of the Baptists said that their trips were 100 percent for religious purposes. Others traveled with the intent to visit only secular tourist sites, or without the intent to visit any tourist sites at all. Most of the travelers discussed their experiences with leisure travel. Two discussed their attempts to combine leisure travel with business trips. One woman described her experiences traveling overseas because of her


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husbands job. Two traveled as U.S. government employees; several had traveled as members of the military. (For more information on the interviewees, please see Appendix 1). Israel provided a particularly-relevant destination for our interviews; it served as the backdrop for Cohens (2003) original study. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe that Israel is sacred land. As most of the interviewees were Christians, a trip to Israel was potentially loaded with religious meaning to them. Anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that travel, regardless of the purpose, can be a transforming experience. The fact that the Christian pilgrims would also experience Jewish and Muslim culture meant that Israel could provoke an interesting range of emotions in the respondents. Further, Israel also has a traditional set of profane tourist attractions including hotels, souvenirs, and beaches (Martyn, 1972); therefore, Israel has an appeal to tourists interested in travel for secular reasons, religious reasons, or both. We interviewed fifteen of the respondents in person and seven over the phone. There was considerable variance in the length of the interviews. Some were less than fifteen minutes long; others lasted as long as forty-five minutes. We made audiotapes of each interview; a graduate student later transcribed each of the tapes. When possible, we interviewed respondents individually. Individual interviews gave each respondent a chance to express his or her views and also prevented groupthink from developing among respondents. In four cases, however, we could not schedule separate interviews and we interviewed two spouses at the same time. We reviewed the interview transcripts to better understand the different types of travelers. We selected a list of open-ended questions to ask each respondent. We designed our list of questions both to cover the topic and to provide interviewees with an opportunity to respond with minimal influence from the interviewer. Each respondent answered a very similar set of questions. However, respondents had varying motivations for travel; further, the circumstances surrounding their travels (destination, group or solo travel, etc.) also differed. Therefore, we did not ask every respondent the same questions. Rather, we omitted some questions when a) it become obvious that the question was irrelevant to that respondent or b) after a respondent indicated that he or she had no interest in a topic. Our questions included: 1. What was the purpose of your trip? 2. How much did your religious beliefs influence your desire to take this trip? 3. What sort of religious tourism sites did you see on the trip? How did you feel about the religious tourism sites on the trip? 4. How much did your desire to get away from it all to have some enjoyable leisure time influence your decision to take this trip? How interested were you in seeing the sites?

How Travelers Consume the Sacred and the Profane


5. What sorts of secular tourism sites did you see on the trip? How did you feel about visiting secular tourism sites on the trip? 6. What was the least enjoyable aspect of the trip? Were there any members of your party who were just not interested in the trip? How could you tell? How did they behave? 7. How did your religious faith change as a result of this trip? 8. What did you learn while on this trip? How did exposure to a different way of life change you? 9. From which of these activities did you learn the most about religion? 10. Which of the activities were the most fun=entertaining? What was the most enjoyable aspect of the trip? 11. How do you think that your family background=family history influences your beliefs? 12. How do you think living in the South influences your religious beliefs? 13. From your experience traveling outside the South, how do you think peoples faith in other places is different from the faith of Southerners? 14. How much traveling have you done? 15. What sorts of things did you spend money on while on the trip? What was your best purchase? 16. What sort of things would you have liked to spend your money on that werent available? 17. How much did you interact with local people while on this trip? How enjoyable was this experience? 18. How much did you interact with fellow travelers while on this trip? How enjoyable was this experience?


Grounded theory allowed us to conduct our interviews without the interference of preconceived notions. However, a relatively clear pattern emerged quite early during the research. Consistent with Cohen (2003), one may classify visitors to religious sites based on: a) their intention to see religious sites and b) their intention to see secular sites. An individual traveler, therefore, might be in one category for one trip (perhaps a visit to Israel) and in another category for a different trip (perhaps a trip to Disney World). It follows that respondents discussed one particular trip that they had taken. The two criteria result in a two-by-two matrix (see Figure 1) that describes the four types of visitors to religious sites and is an extension of Cohens (2003) proposed matrix. (A minority of interviewees, however, exhibited motivations consistent with more than one of the four types). We discuss the four types of visitors below. The following section discusses the business implications of serving each type of visitor.


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FIGURE 1 Four types of visitors to religious sites.

Homers Odyssey recounts the tale of Ulysses, his crew, and their ocean voyage home to Ithaca (Homer & Rouse, 1999). While on their voyage, Homer and his crew encounter a land where the natives offer three of Homers crew lotus fruits. After the three eat the lotus fruit, they soon lose all ambition and forget their duties to the rest of the crew. In the end, Homer must leave the three crew members behind. Lotus-eater, therefore, is a synonym for pleasure seeker. In our taxonomy, lotus-eaters may visit destinations containing religious sites; however, decisions to visit such sites are spur-of-the-moment decisions; the lotuseaters intend to visit only the secular tourist sites during their travels. Not surprisingly, lotus-eaters often expressed ambivalence when they came into contact with religious sites; lotus-eaters reacted very differently to religious sites than did those tourists who intended to see religious sites at the beginning of their trips. One woman who visited Japan and visited a religious shrine by chance, noted:
I felt a little conflicted, you know. I didnt necessarily believe everything. . . . I didnt want to be obtrusive or hypocritical; so, if I went to a shrine, I would partake in the purification rituals that everyone else took part in as to show respect. But not really because I believed in it. So I felt a little conflicted by that because I felt a little like a hypocrite. Maybe I would feel the same way at a lot of Christian sites.

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The woman told us that, although she had no interest when she embarked on her trip, she became interested in religion while in Japan:
Religion was not on my radar [at the beginning of the trip] . . . I have to say, despite the fact that I wasnt interested in religion, the spiritual aspect became one of the most enjoyable [aspects of her trip]. I think my first exposure was by accident. I had gone to the Iris festival in the aquatic gardens. While I was there, by accident, they were having a wedding, a traditional-style wedding. Im not sure if it was Shinto or Buddhist, but it had some elements of both religions. . . . towards the end, I could begin to understand a sense of why they were doing things the way they did them. So it was an evolutionary process, my interest in the spiritual side. But when I went I wasnt particularly interested at all.

In fact, this woman noted that her trip was very influential in shaping her religious views, but that the trip helped push her away from the faith of her childhood:
I realized that I dont know what I believe. . . . Its almost like it [the trip] gave me freedom to break free from a religion of convenience. . . . When I came back, I could have been as much a Buddhist as I was a Catholic. Id say it had a big impact. I became almost more detached from my religion.

The lotus-eater, therefore, may be very similar to Erik Cohens (1979) diversionary traveler; diversionary travelers . . . may not be seeking alternative centres: their life, strictly speaking, is meaningless, but they are not looking for meaning, whether it is in their society or elsewhere (185). However, the comments above indicate that, potentially, the accidental exposure to foreign cultures and religions can transform the diversionary traveler into another of Cohens five types: the experiential traveler. People become experiential travelers when . . . the disenchanted or alienated individuals become growingly aware of their state of alienation, and the meaninglessness and fatuity of their daily life (Cohen, 1979, 186).

Pilgrims are the classic religious travelers. They journey away from home for religious purposes. However, any exposure to secular aspects of their destination (i.e., hotels, restaurants, etc.) is incidental; pilgrims motivations for their trips are solely religious. While pilgrims will, out of necessity, encounter some secular aspects of the culture, they do not have any intention of visiting secular tourist sites. For those operating religious tourist sites, pilgrims are the ideal customers. The pilgrim is unlikely to miss the religious sites.


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By definitions, pilgrims travel with the intention to visit religious, not secular tourist sites. Nonetheless, we were surprised by how explicit many of the pilgrims were in making this point; many pilgrims explicitly stated that religion was the only motivation for their trips:
[The trip] was strictly religious. After all those years of studying the Bible, I wanted to see those things I had been reading about. [The trip was] 100 percent about religion. I wanted to go and see what Id read about in the Bible all my life and I wanted to experience what it was like to see where Jesus walked and where we went and to better understand the Bible. . . . it wasnt a vacation . . . it was just religion. . .

For those operating secular tourist sites, the pilgrim is a mixed blessing. Pilgrims will, of course, spend money on necessities while they travel. But convincing devoted religious tourists to visit secular tourist sites will be a hard sell; this is especially true when one considers the fact that visiting the religious sites is likely to deepen pilgrims appreciation of their faith. Indeed, many of the pilgrims said that their religious experiences were by far the most memorable and rewarding parts of their journeys; when one woman was asked about the most fun or entertaining part of her journey, she said:
I wouldnt say fun fun, but enjoyable. For me . . . it was tied in to the faith walk and making my Bible come alive. . . . It was enjoyable and enlightening, that might be the better word for me. It really wasnt an entertaining trip as opposed to going to Myrtle Beach or Missouri, but this was [an] enlightening experience. I dont look at it as entertaining.

Pilgrims varied in their interpretations of their encounters with the local populace. Some pilgrims noted that they came to appreciate the local population better, but most indicated the foreign culture made little impression on them. These interviewees often stated that prior travel experience or prior knowledge of their destinations culture caused the destinations culture to have little impact. Perhaps their devotion to the religious aspects of the trip also causes pilgrims to focus less on the locals.
Well, Ive traveled extensively, a lot. . . . So, I dont think that that [the culture] influenced me that much. . . . I was very familiar with Muslims and the culture. I dont know that that changed me in any way other than to affirm that you dont make judgments based on a persons culture at all. I dont remember much encounter with . . . Palestinians and Israelis. We saw different people. I dont think we were really exposed. It wasnt like we spent a lot of time with them.

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. . . that didnt have much of an effect on me because I had read about it and I knew what to expect so that didnt have too much of an effect on me.

Many of the pilgrims also mentioned that the good feeling (or communitas) between the members of their group was the best thing about the trip:
The fellowship with the people that you went with was probably mine [i.e., her favorite thing about the trip] . . . . Just the fellowship . . . because you traveled with these people and you were with them all of the time . . . just getting to know them . . . and having fun with them. By the end of your trip, theyre your buddies.

Another woman commented:

The trip was wonderful, I really enjoyed it. Now [we] really became like a close family while we were on the trip. I got to know people I had never even seen in church because of the two services. So that was fun.

Seekers were also likely to comment on feelings of communitas. Travelers who had no intention of visiting religious sites did not comment on any feelings of communitas with fellow travelers. If they commented on warm feelings toward other people, they commented on warm feelings for the local population. Perhaps the pilgrims strong feelings of in-group communitas and weak feelings of connection to the local population indicate that there are tradeoffs between these two types of connections.

Seekers are people who love travel and are open to the widest possible range of travel experiences. Seekers embark on their trips with the intention of visiting both secular tourist destinations and religious destinations. They are, therefore, potential visitors to any tourist attraction that a country offers; however, given the fact that seekers are open to such a variety of experiences, it may be difficult for those operating tourist sites to vie for their attention. By definition, seekers have mixed motives for traveling. Many of the seekers were able to articulate explicitly their motives for traveling:
[The trip was] Not so much to get away from it all, but . . . to have an enjoyable time. And we did. [The motivation for the trip was] 75 percent Christian upbringing and 25 percent leisure. . . . not only our religious beliefs [motivated us], but our interest in history and social studies and geography . . .

Due to their diffuse interests and motivations, it is perhaps more difficult to generalize about seekers than it is about the other three types of travelers.


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In this regard, it is interesting to note that seekers often interpret their experiences traveling in ways that reflect both their secular and their religious reasons for traveling:
I still believe the same way I did, but it maybe gave me an appreciation of our faith because we encountered Muslims and the Jewish people . . . The people over there are less materialistic. . . . They just live a simple life. Most of them do. . . . I think the people in Israel were very kindhearted and very concerned about us being there.

Similarly, one seeker recounted how a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee appealed to him both as a history buff and a devout Christian:
We first entered the Holy Land in Jordan and then crossed over into Israel . . . . [this was relevant to] me especially, being interested in the history. Then from there we spent our first night in Tiberius. To get there, we took a boat across the Sea of Galilee. We were the only ones on the boat. So we rode a small boat all the way across and the boat flew an Israeli flag. And my pastor turned to me while we were all together on the deck and asked if I would read [Scripture] . . . . And Jesus and his disciples were on the Sea of Galilee.

The principle of cumulative attraction was also a key for seekers. One devoutly-religious Baptist pastor noted that Israel is an entertaining destination because it offers visitors an entire range of secular and religious attractions. His answer helps explain how the profane and sacred can intertwine and attract the seeker:
I like climbing mountains. I like going into caves. I like discovering things. So, all of that is fun to me. . . . Some of the best meals that Ive ever had in restaurants . . . not for the food . . . not always crazy about the food there . . . But to be in the environment, to overlook the Mediterranean in Jaffa, old Jaffa, where Simon Peter saw his visions . . . or to be in Jerusalem eating a pizza near the western wall. Those are just fun times.

The seekers we interviewed were also much less likely to spend all of their time traveling with a tour group; if traveling on a tour, most seemed anxious to break away from the tour for a time and experience some of the destination on their own. Obviously, an organized tour may constrain a seekers ability to see everything he or she wishes to see at a destination. A seeker explained how an encounter with an Arab shopkeeper helps shape her perspective on the ongoing religious tensions in the Middle East:
One of the best things we did on this trip was [we] left the tour one day and roamed around Jerusalem on our own. We did two things in

How Travelers Consume the Sacred and the Profane


particular that day that affected our perspective on a lot of things. We wandered. . . in Jerusalem and stopped and talked to a lot of the merchants and stopped and ate in one of the little eating places. Even when we went inside and sat for an extended period of time with a candy merchant, who went down and ordered tea for us. From him, we got the Arab perspective to the whole situation in Israel . . . and I have remembered that as realizing that there is more than one side to what is going on.

Similarly, the Baptist pastor, who had a strong interest in both the secular and religious destinations in Israel, helps explain the unique perspective one gains from traveling outside a tour group:
Two of [his five trips] . . . have been . . . with just one other guy in a rental car and we werent identified as tourists so easily. . . . wed be eating in a restaurant . . . its probably pretty easy to pick out the Americans. But, nevertheless, I wasnt on a bus. I wasnt in that kind of tourist mentality. People didnt try to sell us so many T-shirts and that kind of thing. We were able to engage in some real conversations.

On the whole, however, our dominant impression of the seekers is that their motives for travel are diffuse; as a result, their wide range of interests makes it difficult to generalize about these travelers.

Accidental Tourists
Anne Tylers novel The Accidental Tourist (1985) recounts the tale of Macon Leary. Macon is a middle-aged man who writes travel guidebooks for businesspeople who loathe traveling. The accidental tourist attempts to travel without encountering anything that causes discomfort; therefore, the accidental tourist attempts to cling to the familiar while on the road. Accidental tourists are travelers who go on the road with no intention of visiting secular or religious tourist sites. Some accidental tourists simply do not like to travel; others are too busy with other commitments (business, visiting friends, receiving medical care, etc). Serving accidental tourists, therefore, presents a steep challenge for those operating tourist venues. Accidental tourists generally want to escape the rigors of travel; to the extent that things can be just like home the accidental tourist is happy. One of our interviewees, who had lived in Israel for four years, exhibited many of the characteristics of an accidental tourist; but he did not neatly fit into one category. We asked him what sort of things he would have liked to purchase overseas that he could not access; he replied:
. . . I had a U.S. post office and I could get online and get anything I wanted mailed to me as if it were being mailed to a post office in the


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U.S. We could even get FedEx delivered to the [United States] Embassy. We just came by and picked it up. You know . . . I just cant think of anything [that he wanted, that he could not get delivered].

Such attempts to bring all of the comforts of home overseas are typical of the accidental tourist. Of a trip to Paris, the same man lamented:
Well, the people are not very polite. They will not speak English to you. They understand it and you get responses. You get what you want. You get what you need. But in general, they wont speak English. And I dont know why.

Not all accidental tourists want to bring home abroad. One accidental tourist, a retired executive, lamented that he enjoyed travel, but that during his years of business travel he seldom got to do any sightseeing in the places that he visited. He mentioned one visit to Miami:
I think that I would have probably enjoyed more sightseeing. Going to perhaps other areas, more of that. Of course, I probably would have enjoyed seeing more of the Miami area if I had had time. I was at the meetings the entire time I was in Miami.

Another reply by the same man underscores the extreme difficulties religious sites will have in attracting some non-religious guests. When asked about how he felt about not having an opportunity to see Miami Beachs Holocaust memorial or any of the other religious sites in the area, he replied:
It was fine that I didnt see any [religious sites]. I wouldnt have seen any if Id had time. That wasnt an issue.


In this section we discuss the ways businesspeople can use our taxonomy to market travel products to each type of traveler.

Promotions to lotus-eaters should focus on the fun side of the tourist site. Marketing to this group should appeal to their desire to seek entertainment at the tourist destination. But promotions to lotus-eaters should downplay the religious sites. Since fun is self-defined, advertising to this group should include appeals to a variety of interests such as sport, shopping, history, entertainment, or culture.

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Attractions for this group are only as appealing as the entertainment value provided. Marketing messages should stress emotional arousal such as humor, excitement, fear, or surprise; promotions should also appeal to the senses, such as tastes, smells, sounds, and sights. Another effective promotion tactic might be to stress that the tourist site is fashionable and that trendy people are visiting. This group may even find appeal in the profane or irreverent interpretation of religious sites. This presents an opportunity to the host community, but it also challenging. For visitors who have strong religious views, the irreverence may seem inappropriate. The difficulty in mixing profane and sacred tourists might be part of the reason that non-Muslims are not allowed to visit Mecca in Saudi Arabia (Information for the Traveler, 2007).

For pilgrims, the attraction is to feel closer to God. Authenticity, therefore, is the key for the pilgrim (Martyn, 1972). Those with strong religious beliefs do not want to feel that a religious site is overly commercial. Marketing to this group should include its significance as a religious site and use the language of the religion to connect with the pilgrim. In addition, targeting these individuals may be most effective by targeting the church, parish, synagogue, or temple to which they are affiliated. Group leaders within the church, parish, synagogue, or temple can be key gatekeepers in organizing trips to the religious site and encouraging pilgrims to incorporate such destinations into their spiritual journey. Timing of marketing messages should be linked to the religious calendar in order to encourage travel associated with holy days (e.g., Christmas, Easter, Passover, etc.) and special events of significance to the religion (e.g., travel to Rome when a new Pope is elected). Tourist sites should also remember, however, to increase their promotions during the regular tourist season in the summer and around major holidays; even Pilgrims may find it difficult to arrange time off from work or school at other points during the year.

Seekers are motivated to find destinations that have a range of tourist sites; seekers want to see it all. So, the principle of cumulative attraction will be the key to attracting them. The appropriate promotional strategy, therefore, would emphasize the range of activities (both secular and religious) that are available to tourists in an area. For Israel, the seeker would want to know about the religious sites, but also the beaches, mountains, restaurants, etc.; promoters should try to convince these visitors that the destination is


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appealing in the broadest sense: spiritually, historically, architecturally, and scenically. For seekers who enjoy guided, group travel, package tours will be attractive. Such tours should include multiple destinations. The main focus of the tour operator should be on preventing boredom among the seekers; the seeker wants to experience as much as possible in the time allotted for the trip. Promotions to tour groups, travel agencies, and special interest groups (e.g., alumni groups, senior citizen groups, and other special interest groups) should be effective. Since seekers have very broad interests, advertising on travel websites and travel guides that appeal to the mass audience should also be effective; the lack of specific interests among the seekers makes it difficult to focus on specialized media.

Accidental Tourists
Accidental tourists either do not want to travel or they have no time to for traditional tourism activities. We offer two basic principles for serving the accidental tourists: one is convenience, the other is impulse. Many accidental tourists crave the comforts of home. (Anne Tylers Macon Leary tells travelers where they can find familiar brands like Taco Bell, Sweet n Low, and Chef Boyardee overseas). Any tourist site, religious or otherwise, that wishes to attract accidentals, must focus on comfort. Tourist sites can use a variety of ways to keep accidental tourists comfortable:
. . . .

offer programs in the tourists native languages, make it easy for accidentals to pay by accepting a wide of credit cards, offer familiar food, and try to associate the site with brands that are familiar to the accidental tourist. For instance, something as simple as selling Coca-Cola could help put accidentals at ease.

For the accidental tourist, the attraction is impulse. This group had no intention to visit a secular or religious site. Since the decision is often made at the last minute, promotions that capture this group would need to include billboards and other types of outdoor media and signage near the site. Inroom literature at nearby hotels may also attract accidentals. Since this is in-the-moment decision-making, communication material that can be distributed in conference registration packets, hotel check-in materials, rental car sites, and airport signage would be desirable ways to promote a tourist site. The key is to be repetitious and ubiquitousto be where the accidental tourist might pass or stop. Regardless of the type of promotion, one can only attract accidentals by focusing on activities that are easy (i.e., comfortable), fun, and quick.

How Travelers Consume the Sacred and the Profane



True to the principles of grounded theory, we completed the interviews without having a model a priori; this allowed us to read the transcripts to form tentative conclusions regarding our taxonomy. When we consulted the literature, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we made a unique contribution to scholarship. However, our taxonomy also corresponds nicely to previously-published work in the tourism literature. Cohen (1972, 1979) wrote a pair of articles in which he classifies tourists. He classifies tourists based on the degree of their exposure to a foreign culture (Cohen, 1979). Our framework differs in that, unlike Cohen, we do not believe that tourists must travel for recreation or cultural enlightenment; it is possible to travel for both purposes. Further, our taxonomy makes a clear differentiation between profane tourist activities and sacred tourist activities; both activities can be cultural experiences. But by separating these activities, our taxonomy categorizes tourists into four distinct groups that cover travelers varied motivations for visiting overseas. In short, we make a clearer distinction than Cohen does.

As is true of all qualitative research, many factors limit the generalizability of the findings. All of the interviewees were living in the southeastern United States at the time of the interviews. Most had grown up in the South. Though respondents were dispersed throughout the Southeast, the largest group lived in the Deep South (the Deep South is Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina [Beck & Tolnay, 1990, 528]). The majority of the respondents lived in two smaller southern cities. Both of these cities have area populations in the 400,000600,000 range. Two of the respondents were from rural areas. All of the respondents live in areas where there is a substantial population of people from outside the South. Further, all of the respondents are in contact with people who do not share their religious values. Southern respondents might respond differently to questions than would people from other parts of the U.S. or the world. Further, all of the respondents are Caucasians; again, readers should bear in mind that travelers from other ethnic groups might have different reactions to their travels. The approximate age range among the respondents was from the early 30s to over 65; in this range, older respondents were predominant. Additional studies with more diverse respondents could help develop generalizations about each of the four types of travelers.


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Future Directions
Since travel is an inherently cyclical industry, it would also be interesting to explore how elasticity of demand varies across the four groups. Woodside and Motes (1981) find that different segments in the tourist market have very different responses to promotions; we wonder if these four groups would have different elasticities in regard to their demand for travel to certain locations. One might hypothesize that the demand for visits to religious sites would be more inelastic among the devout believers. But we can only speculate at this time. We are also intrigued by the complexities of the group dynamics in religious travel. Since Turner (1973) stated that religious pilgrims develop a strong feeling of communitas, scholars have argued about how group travel influences those who travel for religious reasons. There is still ample room for study of the group dynamics in religious pilgrimage. One fruitful area for future research would be to explore how tourists desire for stimulating travel experiences differs among the four groups. Fernandes (2006) states that tourists crave the three Es: excitement, education, and entertainment. Fontaine (1994) mentions that the role of sensation seeking in tourism is not well understood. The taxonomy we propose clearly shows that the three Es and the role of sensation seeking in RET is likely to be vastly different in the various categories proposed and of increasing interest to social scientists because of those differences. Above all, we are fascinated by the interaction of the sacred and the secular, the lotus-eater and the pilgrim, religion and commerce. Interesting questions include: why do the religiously uncommitted visit religious sites? How do religious visitors influence the economies and the cultures of the host communities they visit? Do travelers obtain measurable benefits (e.g., deeper faith, renewed faith) from their journeys? Also, the economic side of religious tourism is still remarkably under-researched. Are certain types of tourists more profitable for some sites than for others? We encourage ambitious scholars to accept the challenge of exploring these mysteries. Our article provides a starting point.

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Had Travelled overseas prior to this trip? No No No No Yes No No No Yes No No Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Subject # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Gender Female Female Female Male Female Female Female Female Female Male Female Female Female Male Female Male Male Female Female Male Female Male

Age 2007? 67 62 57 72 72 75 68 54 63 68 65 69 71 74 70 68 48 47 60 64 34 58

Age during trip? 66 61 56 66 66 74 62 48 62 37 34 68 65 68 64 62 42 41 54 49 30 53

Traveled with family? No No No Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes