The effect of the pandemic on faith tourism

Four scientists conducting academic studies in Turkey Covid-19 examined the impact of the pandemic on religious tourism. The study sheds light on the history of the virus, its impact on the global economy, and crisis management measures involving holy places.

The effect of the pandemic on faith tourism

In the study carried out by Prof. Dr. William Mosier, Dr. Tariq Elhadary, Dr. İsmail A. Elhaty ve Dr. Mehdi Safaei, working at Istanbul Gelisim University, the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic was addressed from the perspective of medical science, chemistry, management science, economics and religious sociology.

American Professor Dr. William Mosier said: “The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused a worldwide shockwave of fear and much misinformation leaving chaos in its wake. Holy shrines and other religious sites have a special place in the hearts and minds of many people. For example, the mosques in Makkah and Medina, Saudi Arabia typically accommodate over one hundred thousand Muslims daily. Due to the spread of COVID-19, both mosques were forced to shut their doors to pilgrims for health and safety reasons. This situation has saddened millions of Muslims all over the globe. The same situation applies to Qom City in Iran, Bethlehem on the West Bank, and the Vatican City. This paper sheds light on the history of the virus, its effect on the global economy and crisis-management measures involving sacred places.”


Stating that the negative impact on faith tourism may affect future pilgrimage visits negatively, Prof. Dr. William Mosier added: “Due to health and safety concerns, travellers might feel reluctant to resume pilgrimages if they believe the health risks remain even after the pandemic has officially ended. The impact is potentially grave for Islam because the most important pilgrimage is the heavily populated pilgrimage to Makkah which occurs annually. It is unclear whether the pilgrimage will be cancelled in 2021. The same uncertainty befalls the Christian pilgrimages to Bethlehem, The Vatican, the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and many other religious sites throughout the world in the coming months. Fears surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic could have a longlasting impact on religious tourism and make believers more hesitant to go on pilgrimages.”


Stating that the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have rekindled spirituality and a willingness by many to have greater respect for individual differences and see the essential oneness of all humans, Moiser said: “Motives that drive millions of pilgrims to embark on their pilgrimage should not be underestimated. The future of religious tourism depends to some extent on these strong motives as its recovery force.”

Edited date: 26.11.2020
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