Looking back at the itinerary drawn up by this book, it needs to be pointed out that there are various stations at which we have not halted. Although the present itinerary may appear quite extensive, it is far from complete. While some may ﬁnd it excessive to devote an entire book to what some may consider (contrary to my own view) a marginal subject, the topic in fact is far from exhausted. Many issues could well have beneﬁted from (further) explorations; consider business, backpacker or third age tourism, postcards, photographs and photographing, advertisements and brochures, and the vast ﬁelds of travel literature, to mention only a few topics. Moreover, all chapters could have been supplemented by various other examples and by engaging additional theoretical perspectives. Last but not least, while this book portrays tourism as some kind of a homogeneous system, social analysis may well diﬀerentiate the subject through various categories such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and historical and geographical contexts. Despite its admitted limitations, the present book has aimed at providing
a multiplex ﬁrst account of the busy intersections and reciprocities between religion – on institutional, private, and individualized levels – and (leisure) tourism, which by now is a highly diversiﬁed sphere. Note that both key terms are used here, out of convenience, as shorthand signiﬁers for complex formations of networks of agents, structures of communication, and systems of objects. On theoretical and empirical grounds, we have rejected the general thesis that tourism has taken the place of religion in the modern world, or that the tourist is ultimately a religious/spiritual ﬁgure. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the fact that many tourists (although not all), including those traveling without any prior religious or spiritual motivations, are in one way or the other, either physically or through a wide range of travelrelated media, exposed to religion in several of its varieties and diverse material qualities. Clearly, a renewed interest in religion or religious topics emerges among some people when traveling, and religious attitudes and values can contribute to tourist behavior, starting with the selection of destinations. Conversely, our analysis has pointed to a new touristic layer of
religion. Evidently, several aspects of religions (most prominently places but also performances and holidays and festivals) are more or less profoundly aﬀected and hosted by tourists and tourism – sometimes to the extent that they are mainly advertised to and consumed by tourists and that they are maintained or produced for tourism. The same is true for religious objects produced and sold as souvenirs. Indigenous people and religious groups as well as traditions or religious experts such as shamans are visited by tourists. Moreover, religious tropes and metaphors are, often playfully, engaged by tourists and both inventively and stereotypically used, often hyperbolically, by promoters of tourism when referring to (potential) attractions and destinations. Hopefully, then, the present book has made it abundantly clear that
tourism is a major arena and context for the unfolding of religion in the contemporary global world, so that tourism no longer appears as a marginal subject for those who study religion(s) – nor religion for those who study tourism. The reciprocity between the two spheres entails that both relate to each other – the agency being on both sides, each being both subjects and objects in this mutual relationship. Tourism bears upon religions, while religious groups, organizations, and individuals in diﬀerent ways use tourism facilities for their purposes, and religion is in various shadings (explored in greater detail in the diﬀerent chapters of the present work) engaged by tourism, tourists, and governments. These developments can result in a “touristiﬁcation” of religious structures, while tourism can appear as a playground for religious activities. When religion, in its ideological, material and performative instances
makes its appearance in the arena of tourism, religion is being displayed and staged; by being part of tourism as a system of communication, religious events, groups, metaphors, performances, and places are being subjected to its code, for which the notion of “attraction” is a deﬁning feature. In other words, by being absorbed within or entering the tourism system, aspects of religion(s) such as events, groups, and sites are being converted or translated into attractions to be appropriated by the tourist gaze and typical tourist activities such as visiting, photographing and buying souvenirs. These aspects of religion(s) serve as opportunities for amusement, distraction, diversion, education, entertainment, fun, pastime, and spectacle or may otherwise appear as heritage. Inversely, if such material instances of religion are not convertible or translatable into attractions, they will most likely not appear on (oﬃcial) tourism circuits and routes. Ordinary religion is mostly of interest to scholars and ﬁeldworkers; to tourists it becomes of interest as elements of an attraction or a destination, often as some kind of scenery. At the same time, even relatively minor structures are increasingly being dressed up as attractions. While aspects of religions, as we have seen throughout this book, can in some cases be a major element of the mise en scène of travels and places, in other cases they merely serve as a background prop contributing to
the creation of a favorable (“authentic”, “scenic”) atmosphere. Religion is represented in situ or in museums, theme parks or various electronic or print media, including advertisement materials. More speciﬁc key ﬁndings with regard to the busy intersections between
religion(s) and tourism have been ﬂagged in our travel diary throughout the itinerary; since they were collected as “souvenirs” (reﬂecting the reduction in complexity typical for this kind of objects), which are displayed as text boxes within each chapter, they will not be reiterated here. From the various arguments, examples and issues covered by our voyage through global tourism, it is clear that the complexities of the conﬂuences should restrain one from drawing overtly ambitious general conclusions. Not every tourist is immune to religion, nor is every tourist a spiritual seeker; by being opened to and submerged in tourism, religious events, performances, places and things do not as such become degraded and inauthentic – to mention some stereotypical misconceptions. Whereas religion for some tourists in some countries may be consumed as a practice of nostalgia and vicarious memory, enacted at sites and events where an active minority of performers looks after the perpetuation of religion on behalf of a listless majority (Davie 2000), such an interpretation would not necessarily lend itself to tourism in other part of the world. While many religious events and objects change once they function as tourist attractions and are “touristiﬁed” in the sense of becoming adjusted to the modus operandi of mass tourism, this cannot be said to be the case everywhere. In many cases, however, negotiations or even conﬂicts occur at the busy intersections between religion(s) and tourism. Since both religion and tourism are often subject to value judgements – in the sense of being considered as inherently good or evil – a scholarly perspective would be well advised to carefully avoid the trap of merely conﬁrming prejudices. Moreover, although (or because) it is easy to provide a, technically speaking, relatively unambiguous deﬁnition of tourism that allows for an unequivocal identiﬁcation of some kinds of activities (travels) as touristic, and people engaging in this mode of traveling as tourists, this very act of classiﬁcation, which also can include pilgrims/pilgrimages, does not as such trigger valid inferences concerning the attitudes and behaviors of these people (at least when understood as “real” people rather than as metaphors for theorizing social processes). With regard to religion, for example, the very fact of being a tourist does not predict any speciﬁc religious (or anti-religious) attitudes and behaviors. This is why the present book has focused on the systemic qualities of tourism. In the following, rather than once again proudly displaying our ﬁndings
(souvenirs), let us tentatively place the topic of tourism on the map of some recent theoretical work in the social sciences and the study of religion(s) where tourism, to my eyes, so far has for the most part been unduly neglected. Of course, all these issues could be discussed much more extensively than is possible here.