What are the influence of religious factors on pilgrimage tourism in Romania?

What are the influence of religious factors on pilgrimage tourism in Romania?



The aim of this research is to investigate the religious factors that have aninfluence on Maramures Northern part of Romania in Easter time.

1.2 Objectives

1. To review the literature about religious factors and tourism

2. Carry out the research with questionnaires in northern part of Romania

3. Findings and analysing

1.1Background and Rationale

Tourism and religion are historically related through the institution of pilgrimage, from which later the phenomenon of pilgrimage tourism emerged. Whilst numerous studies (Razaq Raj,2007;Hall,2008;Williams,1998) examined how tourism impacts on destinations and how local residents view tourism, there is a small number of studies looking specifically at how pilgrimage tourism and its religious factors affect tourism.

As Razaq Rai(2007,p.22) cites “there are many reasons why people travel and these motivations have been researched intensively by geographers, sociologists and even by business community”. (Williams , 1998.p.166). At its most basics pilgrimage can be viewed as any travel which involves a religious experience. In view of the fact that such journeys are obviously a combination of a religious experience and travel it would be easy to characterize all journeys to religious sites as religious tourism.(Davies and Davies, 1998. p.179).

I have selected this topic because it is an ample subject and very interesting. In this research project I will try to find out more about pilgrimage tourism, I will look into a particular area from a European country which is Romania and identifying what influences religious factors have on tourism.

There are many researches(Chis and Tarca, 2009;Bower,2004) that were carried out but mine is particular looking into one small but with big potential area from Romania which is Maramures, the northern part of the country and the most well preserved region. I chose Easter time to collect my data as it is a very important religious holiday for all Christians.


There are two data collection methods;

1. Primary data collection

Primary data is original data, data that has not previously been collected. Interviews, observations and questionnaires yield primary data. (Hall, 2008)

2. Secondary data collection

Secondary data is data that has been previously collected, usually for another purpose. It includes administrative records, existing statistics, and previous research studies. (Hall, 2008)

For this research project I have selected one of the primary data collection methods which are questionnaire to gather primary data. Questionnaires are an inexpensive way to collect primary data from a potentially large number of respondents. (Hall , 2008).

Often they are the only realistic way to reach a number of reviewers large enough to allow statistically analysis of the results. The questionnaires for my research will contain 30 questions that will be given to tourists who are going to visit Putna Monastery on Easter day and priests as well.

The questionnaires are a better research method because often they are the only feasible way to reach a number of reviewers large enough to allow statistically analysis of the results. The data will be collected at the selected places in order to reach the exact tourists and priests which are willing to answer the questions.


In this study, a questionnaire will be design and asked to approximately 50 visitors randomly at the Putna Monastery, one of the most visited monasteries in the country This place was strategically chosen because of its high importance for the religious visitors and tourists. This monastery is believed to have miraculous powers, healing people of diseases, also it has a frame with Jesus picture crying with blood tears. The monastery is opened for tourists only on Easter period, a holy holiday for all Christians.

This sample will take place between the 24.04.2011and the 26.04.2011.

After the religious ceremonial I will try to interview 2 priests and two monks from the same monastery.

Literature Review

Tourists taking part in religious tourism cannot be classified into a single type of tourism, as too many types of people with a variety of interests participate in religious events, ceremonies, pilgrimages and processions.

Religion as a concept is linked to a variety of issues in the tourism research literature, but is most commonly mentioned in relation to pilgrimage and discussions about the links between tourism and pilgrimage (Cohen, 1992a, 1992b,1998;Din, 1989). Many researchers, Sousa (1988) for example, suggests that the acts of travel described in the Old and New Testaments, whether it is Jesus travelling in the land of Israel or the travels of the Jewish people to discover their god, should be approached as a form of tourism. Shackley (2002) suggests an example of how the boundaries of religion can be drawn widely in the example of the prison that housed Nelson Mandela for almost 20 years in Robben Island.

Religion was found to be a factor linked to the supply of tourism. On the micro level, Brown(1996) in his ethnographic study of the ‘Borscht Belt’, provides evidence of how religious taboos influence the provision of hotel services, such as the variety of food ingredients and the service procedures.

Another branch of research relates to people’s religion as a factor that explains their behaviour as tourists, whether it acts as a motivating force, a constraint, or in relation to aspects of the tourists’ visitation patterns themselves. Fleischer and Pizam (2002) looked at constraints affecting the participation of seniors in vacation activities. They emphasised the effect of a tourist’s religious affiliation as a possible constraint. For example, they observed that ‘Jews do not travel on Saturdays and other Jewish holidays’ (p.114). Evidence for the place of religion as a motivation for tourist activities linked to pilgrimage is commonly given (Constable,1976;Smith, 1992). Jackson and Hudman (1995) studied visitation patterns to cathedrals in England. Although religion was not found to be a motivating factor for the travel as a whole, it was found to be a motivation for the visit to a cathedral during the travel. Mansfeld (1995), in his research concerning the north-west London Jewish community, suggests that a tourist’s religion is associated with belonging to a certain social reference group which may influence the behaviour of the tourist. Fleischer (2000), in her study about pilgrims to the Holy Land, suggests that those tourists who regard themselves as pilgrims have different personal characteristics and visitation patterns from other tourists visiting Israel.

She compared tourists based on their religious affiliation and suggested differences between Protestants and Catholics in terms of their perception of the visit as sacred or secular.

There are a range of historical examples of linkages between religion and travel .Sheratt and Hawkins characterized Islam as a “vital, vivacious and expanding religion”(Sheratt and Hawkins, 1972, pg. 93) in which Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina was the genesis of the rapid spread of Islam throughout the world .

Nolan and Nolan (1992) described the European religious system as being comprised of religious attractions, pilgrimage shrines (both touristic and non-touristic) and festivals. They highlighted the interaction between the pious pilgrims and secular tourists acknowledging that “regardless of their motivations, all visitors to these attractions require some level of services, ranging from providing for the most basic human needs to full commercial development that rivals the most secular resort”.(Nolan and Nolan, 1992, pg. 69).

Nolan and Nolan suggested that visitors who come to visit a famous or very known shrine may represent a gradient from very pious and seriously prayerful, to purely secular and basically uninformed about the religious meaning of the place. (Nolan and Nolan, 1992)

Although visitors representing these extremes usually exhibit different behaviour, there is no contradiction between pilgrims and tourists, many of them being in intermediate categories like Nolan suggests. (Nolan and Nolan,1992,pg 69)

They suggested that despite the potential incompatibility of these different visitors, it is possible to manage potential conflicts. These potential conflicts have more recently been catalogued by Wall and Mathieson (2006), who, through their historical analysis of linkages between the impact of tourism on religious sites and centres , cited meeting of the World Council of Churches (1970),cited in Sheratt and Hawkins (1972), and the Caribbean Ecumenical Consultation for Development(1971) ,as early examples of The Church being worried about how tourism , through the growing commercialization of tourism , might have detrimental sociocultural and environmental impacts in religious centres globally.

Economics and religion have been influential forces in shaping world history. However according to Vukonic (2002), the economic aspects of religious travel have been the least studied topic in relation to the religion- tourismcrossover, only being of interest to researchers when a single sacred site is under consideration. Religious pilgrimage has a history of being economic generator in the areas pilgrims visited, as a services developed to cater to their needs .This is much the same today, where in many places religious sites are the main tourists attractions and sometimes anchor entire economies such as in Santiago de Compostela, Mecca, Romania etc. In many countries and localities, tourism is seen as a way either to divers or rescue a struggling economy especially with current tourism forecasts, as mentioned earlier, showing that religious tourism will increase in the near future (Rusell, 1999). Jackowski and Smith (1992) give the example of pilgrimage sites from Romania where because of Second World War damage and communist repression, a tourism infrastructure was virtually non-existent in the early 1990s.

They point out that this lack of infrastructure limited tourists length of stay, subsequently limiting opportunities for local residents to gain from the economic benefits of pilgrimage tourism. Jackowski and Smith argue for the potential of the religious tourism to become an important source of income and employment in Romania. Tourism development at the El de Rocio , in Spain, has also played a central economic role in increasing employment and local revenues (Crain,1996)

Pilgrimage travel is often less prone to economic ups and downs in the market place. Because faith-based travellers are committed travellers they tend to save for these religious experiences and travel despite the state of the economy. Faith travellers tend to have different motives for travel then do travellers for other reasons. For example, the faith-based traveller often travels as part of a religious obligation or to fulfil a spiritual mission. Faith-based travel can provide a steady flow of income to a local tourism economy. (Crain, 1996)

It is estimated that in the US alone some 25% of the traveling public is interested in some form of pilgrimage or faith-based tourism. When one adds to this the number of people who travel for faith-based conventions, and faith based activities such as weddings, bar mitzvahs or funerals, the number becomes extraordinarily large. World Religious Travel is one of the fastest growing segments in travel today. Religious travel is estimated at a value of US$18 billion and 300 million travellers strong. Major faith based destinations such as Israel, Italy and Saudi Arabia have developed large industries that provide services for people on pilgrimage. (Russel, 1999)

While religious tourism has some positives impacts in economic sense, much of the literature focuses on the negative side of religious tourism in relation to sites and ceremonies. While tourism is seen in many circles as a way of contributing to the preservation of heritage and religious sites and to bolster sagging economies, most observers feel it is a destructive force in terms of cultural unity and degradation of the natural and built environment. Gupta (1999), suggests that the only enduring difference between pilgrimage and tourism is that pilgrimage has not produced the negative cultural, environmental and social impacts associated with mass tourism. However this is not entirely correct. In fact there are many recorded instances where pilgrims , those who should respect holy places the most are just as culpable for breaking off pieces of shrines , churches, mosques, and natural sites as non-religious tourists are (Powell,2003;Timothy, 1994,1999).

Mass tourism, the media, and various social groups have taken traditional pilgrimages and transformed them from a cult ritual to a festival status with international and secular flavour (Crain, 1992).

Cohen (1998, pg. 7) argues that mass tourism has a negative effect on the religiosity or level of spirituality of people who live in tourists destinations. He suggests that the impact is “generally a secularizing one – a weakening of the local adherence to religion and of the beliefs in the sacredness and efficacy of holly places , ritual and customs”.(Madan,1986,257).This pattern may be seen in the secularisation of religion in general, which involves a gradual narrowing down , if not the elimination , of the role of religious beliefs practices and institutions in everyday life.

According to Eliade (1987) the most prominent religious sites in Romania are Catholics and Orthodox shrines dedicated to Jesus, Mary the Mother of Jesus and the saints. In the religious usage of the world shrines are repositories for a revered body or venerated relic. In its broader meaning a shrine refers to a sacred site that house holy artefacts , promotes ritual practice and attracts religious travellers who often mark the time and extend the space of the journey by returning home with mementos.

Shrines differ from other places of worship such as local churches, mosques, temples or synagogues which attract visitors on a more regular basis and from a narrower geographical range.(Eliade,1987;Smith,1995).

Pilgrimage is one of the well-known phenomena in various religious cultures and exists in all of the main religions of the world. It is defined as a “journey resulting from religious causes, externally to a holy site, and internally for spiritual purposes and internal understanding”.(Barber,1991,p.1)

Travel to sacred places may be motivated by a number of reasons, ranging from deeply religious to plain curiosity. Such travel is generally placed within the purely religious domain of pilgrimage or within the profane and hedonistic pursuits of tourism. While the
focus in pilgrimage is on the association with some sacred and numinous supernatural power and the ability to get closer to it by means of religious practices, tourism is mainly about ‘getting away’ to experience a change. However, these two forms of travel are interconnected.
According to Rinschede (1992), modern tourism began with the ‘great religious tour’ organised by Thomas Cook in the mid-19th century. Some scholars take this argument further and describe tourism itself as ‘spiritual journey’ or a ‘sacred journey’ because it exhibits the ‘spiritual quest’ inherent in pilgrimage (Graburn, 2001). But there are others who maintain its difference from religious or traditional pilgrimages. This has generated a lot of debate on similarities and differences between pilgrimage and tourism. Timothy and Olsen (2006) provide a comprehensive review of this debate, and therefore instead of repeating it here it would be wiser simply to recognise that these are two different forms of travel that increasingly overlap in the modern context.

It is generally accepted that people’s religion has been characterised as a key factor that influences individuals’ behaviours as travellers, as reflected in their “visitation patterns” (Poria et al., 2003, p. 238). According to the World Religious Travel Association (WRTA), in 2007 over 300 million travellers undertook journeys to sacred sites, and the industry size was estimated at $18 billion (Wright, 2007). Moreover, sites with religious significance continue to attract millions of travellers every year (Jansen and Kuhl, 2008).

Despite the fact that there are 50,000 religious organisations worldwide that organise pilgrimages (Wright, 2007), some argue that travel agencies have triggered the trend of pilgrimage (Bar and Cohen-Hattab, 2003) as the majority of travellers to sacred places prefer purchasing package tours.

However, travel agencies and other tourism organisations do not effectively manage religious travellers. Collins-Kreiner and Gatrell (2006) have pointed out that travel agencies and the tourist industry in general do not consider the different motivations that inspire travellers to sacred places but rather treat them as a homogeneous market of religious tourists. As Reader (1987)indicated, organisations have tried to attract pilgrims by emphasising the comfort and ease of organised pilgrimage tours. In the case of Hindu pilgrimages, Singh (2002) has provided an example of how the tourist industry mismanages pilgrims. Hospitality companies increase their prices without considering the traditional pilgrim segment, which is constituted by low-income travellers.

In addition, many tourist companies consider traditional pilgrims a low-profit industry, while they ignore the fact that even traditional pilgrims have changed their purchasing and spending habits (Wright, 2007). This changing pilgrim consumption behaviour has been acknowledged by Bar and Cohen-Hattab (2003), who indicated that pilgrim expenditures for shopping are the highest of all other types of travellers.

Tour Packages- Pilgrims’ choice

There are two important features of tour packages that make a marketing plan for travel agencies imperative. First, they are predesigned tourist offers and second, they do not offer flexibility to the purchaser (Enoch, 1996). Moreover, Stone (1990)in the context of package tours indicates that, marketing must start with the investigation of the needs and the perceptions of customers for the suitable and appropriate offering. For example, Weidenfeld’s (2006) study suggested that if hospitality companies want to develop a win-win scenario in the pilgrimage market, they should concentrate on the special needs of pilgrims during their sacred journeys. The effectiveness and success of travel agencies’ marketing activities lies on the motives and needs that trigger the travel decisions of individuals (McKercher et al., 2003). Indeed, motivation has been regarded as the most important aspect and force of travelling behaviour (Iso-Ahola, 1982).

Since, there is a lack of research that investigates the motivations of travellers to sacred sites (Poria et al., 2003), there is need for “an in-depth investigation” of the entire religious market (Fleischer, 2000) and an identification of the types of pilgrims and their influence on the tourist industry (Singh, 2005). A number of comprehensive approaches have been developed based on the different motives that inspire journeys to sacred places.

Six types of pilgrims with different motivations regarding their journeys have been identified by Morinis (1992). Travellers may take pilgrimages varying from “devotional” (p. 10), to “wandering” (p. 13). Adler (1989) and Smith (1992) have suggested that pilgrimages and tourism are opposite polarities along an axis or continuum. The endpoints are marked as pilgrimage-sacredness and tourism-secularism while, in the centre of the continuum, a new type of tourism appears, religious tourism-faith/profane. There are two advantages of this model for segmenting travellers into pilgrims and tourists. First, it takes into account all hybrids of religion and tourist motivations (Park, 2004). Second, it addresses the short-term changes in the traveller intentions (religious to tourism) (Bremborg, 2008) and the long-term development of “goals and beliefs”(Reader, 1987, p. 137). Another, similar model has been proposed by Collins-Kreiner and Kliot (2000). Adler’s (1989), Smith’s (1992) and Collins-Kreiner and Kliot’s (2000) models together identify five general types of travellers to sacred places, namely:

Pious pilgrims.
More pilgrims than tourists.
Pilgrims-tourists or religious tourists.
More tourists than pilgrims.
Secular tourists.

The connections between religion and tourism

Religion plays an important and determining role in every society.(Tomasi,2002). The different religious beliefs and faiths came into being before written records and were parts of the earliest societies (Bowker 2004). The cave paintings, shamanism (some of it still living) and the ancient faiths and beliefs of the native population living on different continents refer to these ancient religions.

“Religious tourism can be connected to almost all the lesser and greater religions (Bowker, 2004). Journeys motivated by religious faith play a significant role in the great world religions, too. A significant majority of the world’s religious pilgrim scenes are connected to mountain ranges or hills. Pilgrims often regard the journey they take as a physical manifestation of an inner spiritual journey, with the path travelled being a framework for the travel within”. (Hall , 2006.p 56).

A recent article concludes “tourism and pilgrimage share many features — the requirements of free time, social sanction and income, as well as the process of transfer from ordinary/profane to non-ordinary/sacred time and place … distinctions remain in the context of quest, between the ‘true’ pilgrim following his or her faith and the secular pilgrim seeking meaning or knowledge. (Sharpley & Sundaram, 2005, p. 164)
In modern societies, many people travel to sacred sites with a purpose of achieving both Religious and recreational needs, which poses great challenges to define such movement as either pilgrimage or tourism. A practical approach is to address this problematic by including it within tourism ‘because contemporary pilgrimages involve such huge numbers of people that they can only be organised in the same manner as mass tourism. Large numbers of pilgrims pass through travel agencies, accommodation facilities, catering services and commercial businesses; they are, that is to say, part of the tourist industry’ (Tomasi,2002, p. 21). Gladstone (2005) prefers to describe it as the ‘informal sector domestic tourism’ as it is a major contributor to the domestic tourism industry in developing countries.
However, travel to sacred sites, at least in developing countries, has an exclusive “religious’ component and therefore defies its categorisation as tourism alone. Almost as a compromise, scholars have found use of composite words such as ‘religious tourism’ and ‘pilgrimage tourism’ more reasonable and less controversial

On a global level

According to Eber(1993) numerous religions in the world cannot be described in a simple definition. Most generally, religion is an organised system of beliefs, ceremonies, and practices and worship that centre on one supreme god or deity, or a number of gods or deities. Religion is primarily an attitude towards the world, and everything is seen in this respect. (Eber , 1993.p.7). On the other hand Ekin (1990) believes that faith is not reason, and thus God cannot be created by reason, nor can faith be explained by it. A believer of one faith may have the same or similar experience as a believer of another, yet followers of each express themselves in different ways on the rational, emotional, and moral and every other plane. Almost all people who follow some form of religion believe that a divine power created the world and influences their lives. (Ekin, 1990,p87)
A general intensification of religious belief seems apparent in many parts of the world, accompanied by a weakening of belief in the established church. Apart from the eight major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, Daoism and Confucianism) there is an enormous number of beliefs, cults, myths and sects in the world.(Sizer,1996) To be religious no longer means to blindly follow all that the church says and does. Today, religion can be a personal belief in an entire system, or in the meaning of this or that ritual. A certain degree of alienation, which is so characteristic of the modern societies of the developed world, is reflected in a similar way; by the springing up of new meets and mythologies, assuming specific contents and often adopting dubious values. Theologians have put forward the thesis that it was in religion that free time, rest and travelling were discovered, so it is logical that these should become topical and necessary themes of religious teaching and even pedagogy. (Turner and Turner, 1978).

Bowker(2004,p.65) believes that “religion has found the starting point for its perspective on tourism as a form of free time in the need to explain theologically its meaning in human life and to provide the ethical principles on which tourism should rest, just as it previously expounded the meaning of work for human life as a whole and defined the ethical principles of work.” In ideological views, the attempt is made to rely on original texts in the Bible, the Koran and other sacred texts. These views are founded on the claim that the role of tourism is to provide people with a chance to become familiar with the natural world, with animate and inanimate nature as God’s creation. They are thus able to use their free time for their own spiritual enrichment, even their moral renewal, by exploring the ultimate cause and meaning of their existence. Moreover, the ‘myth of the weekend’, at least in Christianity, enters into the concept of the ‘seventh day’ because this is the day of rest in the Biblical image of the creation of the world. (Wagner,1995,p.45)

In the Christian interpretation, it is impossible to suppose that people will find their realisation in leisure, since that would mean a split personality.(Eliade,1987). According to this view, “free time and leisure are a unique and unified time given to people by God, which should thus be used to serve God.”(Eliade, 1987,p.65). Leisure time, a part of free time in which people will express their most intimate inclinations and devote themselves only to that which satisfied them completely, is the ideal time for people to find the peace they need to give themselves to God and receiveHim.(Wagner,1995,p.32)

The main connection between the religions and tourism can be seen in pilgrimages, the religiously motivated journeys which have been an important part of most religions.(Cruz,1984). Almost every major religion requires its followers to go to holy places. Depending on the degree of their religious belief, people are prepared to undertake journeys covering shorter or longer distances, and sometimes very long ones to follow their religious need or perform an act designated by their religion. (Boile, 2000).This religious nucleus is persistent enough on a global scale to overcome class, national, ideological, age, professional or any other affiliation. (Bowker,2004).

Theories of tourism (Hall,2006;Tomasi,2002) consider this movement as one whose participants are motivated either in part or exclusively for religious reasons. Religious tourism most often appears in three forms(Boile,2000,p34): as a pilgrimage, a continuous group and individual visit to religious shrines; as large-scale gatherings on the occasion of significant religious dates and anniversaries; and as tours of and visits to important religious places and buildings within the framework of a tourist itinerary, regardless of the time of the tour. The most popular pilgrimage destinations in the world are Rome, Lourdes, Compostela, Loretto, Fatima, Einsiedeln, Medju-gorje, Czestochowa, Guadeloupe and others for Christians; Mecca and Medina for Muslims; Varanasi (Benares), Allahabad, Lumbina, Leshan and Mandalay for Buddhists and Hindus; Lhasa for believers in Tibetan Buddhism; and Jerusalem for Christians, Jews and Muslims (see Holy Land).

Religious ceremonies and commemoration days, the climatic location of the pilgrimage sites and the work calendar of the population are the main reasons that religious tourism is bound to a certain seasonality. Religious tourism has also political aspects. Numerous religious places are also national sites. Some authors (Jones, 2000; Morrow, 2001) have tried to determine how and to what extent the phenomenon of pilgrimage and tourism differs. They have even attempted to establish certain similarities between these phenomena and to find arguments to support the thesis that tourism as a kind of pilgrimage of modern civilisation.(Morrow,2001). The more serious forms of tourism, where the motives of the journey are more substantial than pure recreation and entertainment, are analogous to the ecstatic forms of pilgrimage in their spiritual meaning for the tourist, but the symbolic language in which tourists are obliged to express their pilgrimage is different.(Morrow,2001,p.21).On their journeys, they always move towards destinations which are a kind of symbol of their wishes and needs, just as pilgrims do when they head towards the shrine to which the pilgrimage is being made. (Jones, 2000)

Religious tourism is certainly a clearer concept in its secular interpretation. (Hall, 2006).From the perspective of tourism, the religious motive is only one among many which impels tourism movements. Consequences for all categories involved in the process are important: the travellers-believers, the providers of services and the space (region) in which such movement takes place or toward which they are directed. (Hall, 2006.p34)The theory of tourism considers that a part of religious tourist’s behaviour is simply activities which serve to fulfil basic religious needs.

Theological explanations of the concept of religious tourism(Bowman,1993;Prior,1994) have a similar point of departure, but there are differences here between religions. There are those who deny totally such intermingling of the religious and the profane. They attribute tourism as applied to the concept of religion as not even mentioned anywhere in Buddhism, for instance, and Islam avoids this concept or tries to distance itself from it, while Roman Catholicism, although it does not accept explicitly the possibility that a religiously motivated journey may bear the attribute of the tourist, does not totally deny it. However, theologians are reluctant to talk about religious trips as a specific form of tourism. On the contrary, those religious teachings in which the stance toward tourism has been expressed in a relatively strong and well-defined manner, as is the case with the Catholic church and Islam, advocate quite clearly the standpoint that adopting the concept of religious tourism would mean accepting the idea that religion can have another meaning and goal apart from that of faith. In other words, theologians deny that religious motives can be called touristic. By their opinion, the fact that believers on religious journeys have to satisfy their biological needs is not a sufficient argument for the whole phenomenon to acquire a touristic (i.e., profane) rather than a religious character. And on the other hand, the fact that they may have religious needs does not mean that tourists should be seen primarily as believers. (Bowman,1993)

The Catholic Church advocates ‘the religious and moral dangers of tourism’ and the ‘heavy responsibility’ of the participants, which they undertake in contact with other individuals and environments, as well as the conflicts that this can lead to. But at the same time, the Catholic Church recognises the fact that tourism helps to lessen various prejudices among people and leads to mutual respect among nations, as well as creating the objective conditions for the spiritual elevation of individuals. The idea of pastorisation of tourism was born in Christianity and contained in the organisation of religious ceremonies for believers spending their holidays in a certain destination. This idea in its highest form leads to the spreading of religion and the promotion of its teaching. In this sense, tourism is fertile ground for such work because in their free time people are relaxed, they accept debate and they are prepared to meditate and to gain new insights. (Sizer, 1998)

Islamic theologian (Muhammad al Bukhari, 1978) finds it difficult to reconcile Islam with the ‘Western contents’ of tourism, stressing rather its spiritual and social dimensions. He apostrophise especially the negative impacts of the development of modern tourism that are reflected in a marked sexual permissiveness, pornography, voyeurism, nudism and so on, as well as in certain forms of supply that are opposed to Islamic tradition and religious teaching (as regards to food, drink, gambling and the like). But on the other hand, in Islam, hospitality is a major theme in all holy books, writings and teachings. The attitude of Islam towards hospitality was to be expected, considering the fact that the haj[j is one of the fundamental commandments for an Islamic believer.(Sizer,1998).

Buddhism is much more tolerant in this respect. This is reflected especially in the different ways in which foreign tourism is treated in some Buddhist countries.

The standpoints of the tourism theory are somewhat different. In religious tourism, the dominant sacred content of the journey is important, but it is also important that other, so-called touristic, contents should be present at such destination.(Huston,2004).Therefore the very fact that the tourist is a believer is not sufficient for such a person to be called a religious tourist. Tourists who are religious are simply manifesting their personal conviction. Such tourists do not join touristic movements impelled by religious motives; they use their religious needs and rituals in the same way usually done in their permanent place of residence. They also demand that certain religious contents be included in the obligatory range of touristic supply amenities, but these contents or buildings are not crucial to their decision to travel to a certain destination, although they may affect their final decision.

The most visible connection between tourism and religion is the thousands of sacred buildings that are frequented by tourists.(Hall,2004). The reason for their interest is increasingly to be found in the cultural content or historical value of the sacred building, rather than its original religious purpose. These contents are determined by their function in religion. According to Hall,( 2004) what attract (religious) tourists are pilgrimage shrines, defined as places that serve as the goals of religiously motivated journeys from beyond the immediate locality; religious attractions, in the form of structures or sites of religious significance with historic and/or artistic importance; and festivals with religious associations.
(Smith, 1995)
There are enormous numbers of objects which have a religious meaning, and are thus used in religious rituals (prayer books, breviaries, rosaries, crosses and more), which tourists keep as religious souvenirs. In modern tourism one is witnessing a large-scale vulgar commercialisation of religious motives and their use on the most varied objects, which thus become symbols of certain religious sites or content. Today there are probably no orthodox theologians or other theorists who would deny the economic impacts of religious tourism. Believers had to be accommodated and catered for, and they bought various objects as souvenirs of their stay in the place of pilgrimage as well as other kinds of goods and food. This represented a constant source of income for the local population. Rome was probably the first world shrine which not only felt the economic benefits of pilgrimage but also undertook certain activities to increase the impact. It is thought that there were over two million pilgrim and religious tourists every year. (Tuchman,1957)

It is hard to escape the impression today that in most of the places of pilgrimage in the world, the profane impact is more and more on a par with the religious impact. In the religions that are more ‘hardline’ or conservative in their requirements for the strict observance of all the religious duties of their adherents, such benefits are no longer denied.
There is no reason to believe that the religious motive for travelling will weaken. Man has been given reason and free will, so acceptance of God’s law is a question of individual conscience. This view of religious freedom assumes freedom from any religious pressure. It argues in favour of the view that religious tourism will become increasingly individualised, and also that the visits to the religious places will develop more or less with the same intensity as in the past. (Vukonic,1997).…

Religion influence on Christian pilgrims at Easter

Pilgrimage, however, is a pervasive phenomenon in Christianity. For example, up to 70,000 Christian pilgrims travel to Romania every year (Reader, 2007), and the Holy Monasteries have dominated as the most important Christian pilgrim destination. The reasons for visits on the monasteries is that traditional pilgrims are connected with rituals and motives, such as vows to God, prayers for Christians, feeling God’s love, connecting with God, belief, spiritual peace (Collins-Kreiner and Kliot, 2000), “lighting candles”,“having objects blessed”, and “participating in mass” (Bar and Cohen-Hattab, 2003, p. 138).

Collins-Kreiner and Kliot’s (2000) study has suggested that Roman Catholic travellers to Romania emphasise the religious aspects of their pilgrimage and, therefore, they can be positioned at the sacred endpoint of the pilgrimage-tourism continuum. Greek and other Eastern Orthodox Christians are also characterised as traditional pilgrims that travel in the, as they are interested mostly in visiting the Churches where miracles happened in order to cope with death and illnesses, to find lost relatives and to pray for wealth (Aivazian, 1996). Rinschede (1992) revealed another important aspect of Greek pilgrims, namely, their preference for travelling in groups with other Greek Orthodox travellers.

In the context of Christian pilgrimages to Northernpart Of Romania , the study of Fleischer (2000)revealed that this pilgrim market consists of middle-aged and older individuals across all social classes (Cormack, 1998). Moreover, these mature pilgrims are forced mostly by personal, internally derived “pull” motives, while“push” motives provided externally by their local tourist agents are of less importance (p. 60). In addition, they are not interested in high-level services, but they prefer a safe, clean, relaxing and pleasant environment (Handszuh, 1997) that is amenable to their low incomes and sensitivity to prices. It seems that these pilgrims plan their trip to Romania in advance (Fleischer, 2000) in accordance with various religious events and holy days (Bowman, 1991).

Finally, tour guide services are of great importance for pilgrims. Traditional Christian pilgrims are interested in religious trips in the form of package tours (Nolan and Nolan, 1989), and during their religious journey, they prefer to read religious guidebooks (Ben-Arieh, 1997) that are provided by their local priest, who also serves as a tour guide.


The nature of this project is exploratory and therefore requires inductive approach.

As the main aim of this research was to identify the religious factors that have an influence on tourism in Northern part of Romania (Maramures), a quantitative research approach was used. The number of the interviewees is 50.

A questionnaire was developed to find out the reasons tourists visit sacred places, holy monasteries etc., and what influence religion has on tourism. The data collection method used was the questionnaire, which is a tool used particularly when surveying a group of individuals. The questionnaire was prepared in a semi-structure, to not confuse or intimidate the participants. The participants were asked to complete a total of 15 questions; all were easy to understand and did not include any jargon. On the questionnaire the topic, the background and purpose of the survey was included.

I decided to collect the data at the nearest Airport (Baia Mare) at the end of the tourists’ visits to Putna Monastery for two main reasons.

First, at this point, the tourists ‘memories of their experiences were fresh. And second, the majority of tourists visiting Maramures, leave from the monastery towards the airport, making it a good location for capturing a diverse range of visitors (Romania Ministry of Tourism, 1996). Also, I interviewed international tourists and local tourists when they were heading towards their accommodation (hotels, guesthouse, tents).The idea of interviewing tourists at the Monastery itself was rejected for three main reasons. First, tourists who were there for spiritual peace and meditation might not be happy to participate in an interview. Second, some of the tourists would be part of a tour group and for that reason; it would be difficult to interview them. Such tourists could be excluded from the study, but they might prove to be a significant segment. Third, some of the tourists were emotionally involved in the tourist experience or were involved in prayer rituals while at the site. I felt it was unethical to interfere in such experiences with the various interview procedures.

The fieldwork was planned for a period when there would be maximum

diversity of tourists in Romania, which meant carrying out the research on specific religious holidays (Easter).The main data collection were collectedbetween 20th April and 26th April 2011.An approach to interview the priest and some monks were unfortunately not successful as they did not have the necessary time for answering the questions.

The interviews were carried out at all times of the day and night, and on both weekdays and weekends to achieve maximum diversity.

The research instrument was a structured questionnaire implemented through face-to-face interviews with tourists at Baia Mare Airport after they had completed their visit to Putna Monastery (Maramures), before they passed the passport control.

The interviews were conducted by me and a friend of mine who already has a degree in Romania in International Tourism.

She was selected based on her knowledge of English, confidence when interacting with people and knowledge of what a research means. The interviewer was not aware of the specific objectives of the research in order to reduce the likelihood that she might lead the interviewees to give certain answers.

It was suspected that the questions dealing with religious affiliation and strength of religious belief might be considered private by the participants. This could also be true for some of the questions about the site itself. It was also taken into account that during the interviews participants were often sitting next to colleagues, friends or family at the airport, a factor that could lead to social pressure reflected in the answers provided. It was decided to politely ask each interviewee to step aside from the group and taken into a quiet and more private site. It was hoped this would elicit the participants’ true opinions. The objective of the sampling strategy chosen (a theoretical sample) was not to achieve a representative sample of all international tourists visiting Romania in general or the Putna Monastery in particular, but to include a diversity of tourists who would be able to provide data relevant for the investigation of the research problem. The reason for confining the population to international tourists was based on the assumption that there is greater diversity among this group than among the local population. The actual population used was individuals who identified themselves as international tourists leaving Romania through Baia Mare Airport who were able to speak and understand English and were above 15 years old (as at this age cognitive abilities are considered to be stable: Apter et al., 1998).

It was decided to frame the tourist experience by studying behavior linked to the time before, during and after the visit. It is suggested that this provides a suitable framework for any future discussion. As far as the period before the visit is concerned, the tourists were asked a series of questions dealing with their reason and motivation to visit the site. Another set of questions dealt with the tourists’ visitation patterns to the site and their perception of the visit as a heritage experience. Other questions dealt with their future behavior. At the end of the interview the tourists were asked a series of questions about their personal characteristics (e.g. age group, gender, the place in which they spend most of their life, present place of residence)

Findings and analysis

In order to answer the research question a number of 50 participants were interviewed.

The questionnaire had 15 questions.

1. Did u choose specifically to visit Putna Monastery?

As seen in Chart 1, 30% said they didn’t chose specifically to visit the monastery, claiming they were near it and spontaneously decided to give a look.

On the other hand 70% of the pilgrims wanted to be there at the monastery, planning that with months in advance for religious purpose.

2. If yes, how important were the following in influencing your choice to visit Monastery?

A) It is a prestigious /popular monastery/protected area

B) Opportunity to touch and observe holy frame of miracles

78% responded that being a prestigious monastery and having the opportunity to touch the relics or holy frame play a very important role as it is once in a lifetime experience.

7% claim it is not important as they go to visit places just for simple curiousity.

15% say these factors are important as by being prestigious and well known gives them the security in advance that it is a place worth seeing.

3. Do you come to visit this monastery every year?

25% responded said they do not come to visit the monastery every year, because of different reasons; some of the Romanian tourists live quite far from destination, the travel is to expensive

27% said yes, they return every year for spiritual peace

48% responded it is their first visit, hearing of it from words of mouth, ads etc.

4.If No, what changes have you perceived in number of visitors?

53% said they have seen real improvement in number of tourists visiting the monastery, yearly counted and seasonally (Easter)

Only 14% said they saw a drop in visitors based on recession

33% think there is no change between the previous years and now

5.What reason brings you here?

15% of respondents came for pure curiosity, they said they visit many places and Putna Monastery is just another one on their list

40% mostly adults and elderly people came with the hope that by praying intensely and touching the holy frame they can be healed

45% responded they visit for religion beliefs, mostly Christians orthodox for whom Easter is a very important event


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