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Exploring Visitor Experiences, Activities and Benefits at Three Religious Tourism Sites



This research examines and compares the experiences of visitors (N = 534) to three different Christian religious heritage sites: Canterbury Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Glastonbury Abbey Christian pilgrimage festival. Employing the activity, setting, experience and benefit framework, the findings indicate that the three religious sites attract visitors who seek different kinds of experiences and report different kinds of benefits. Results indicate that restorative experiences and benefits often overshadow the spiritual or cognitive benefits that many believe to be the primary outcomes of religious tourism. These results challenge traditional ideas about what it means to be a visitor at historical religious sites. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.