In Search of a Common Experience: Comparative study on Tourists' Spiritual Experiences in Relation to the Various Types of Tourism

Document Type: Case Studies


Tourism Department, University of Science and Culture, Tehran, Iran



The objective of this study is to investigate the extent of spirituality in various types of tourism, and to test the hypothesis of the existence of common spiritual experiences among all types of tourists. McKercher's typology of cultural tourists and Norman's (2012) typology of tourists' spiritual experiences were applied to classify various groups of spiritual tourists participating in each type of tourism activity. The study population consisted of all individuals who have travelled with the purpose of pilgrimage, recreation, visiting cultural historical attractions, business, visiting religious sites, or participating in ecotourism and nature-based tourism. Sampling was done based on the convenience method according to the size and nature of the target population. Finally, it was concluded that most pilgrims and visitors to the religious sites were purposeful and sightseeing spiritual tourists with a deep intention to search for spiritual growth. Also, among nature-based tourists, ecotourists, business and recreational tourists, and those who had traveled to visit cultural and historical sites, a considerable number were Casual, Incidental and Serendipitous Spiritual Tourists, whilst only a small proportion had purposefully travelled for spiritual growth. Nevertheless, the research indicates the existence of at least one powerful element of spirituality in all types of tourism.