Religious Tourism

Analytical Routes through Multiple Meanings

in Religion and Society
Restricted access


This text proposes a conceptual discussion and a preliminary analysis of a specific situation. In a Brazilian town, a monument representing a Catholic saint has been proposed as a project of ‘religious tourism’. Some of the literature on this subject is examined in order to delineate a perspective that, instead of pointing out its contradictions or ambiguities, allows us to follow the encounters between religion and tourism in their multiple possibilities and meanings. The Brazilian monument is analyzed in order to demonstrate how three different visions converge on it: that of the state, that of the Catholic Church, and that of a group of ‘pilgrims’. In considering these perspectives, the goal is to understand how the various concepts relate to practices of tourism that offer structure and frameworks to promote religious and secular projects.

Contributor Notes

EMERSON GIUMBELLI is a Full Professor at the Postgraduate Program of Social Anthropology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. He has co-edited volumes such as Secularisms in a Postsecular Age? Religiosities and Subjectivities in Comparative Perspective (2017) and Religión, Cultura y Política en las Sociedades del Siglo XXI (2013), and he is a co-editor of the Brazilian journal Religião e Sociedade. He is the author of Símbolos Religiosos em Controvérsias (2014) and O Fim da Religião: Dilemas da liberdade religiosa no Brasil e na França (2002). E-mail:

Religion and Society

Advances in Research

Article Information

Issue Table of Contents

Section Headings


  • AbumanssurEdin ed. 2003. Turismo religioso: Ensaios antropológicos sobre religião e turismo [Religious tourism: Anthropological essays on religion and tourism]. Campinas: Papirus.

  • AlberaDionigi and John Eade eds. 2016. New Pathways in Pilgrimage Studies: Global Perspectives. London: Routledge.

  • BadoneEllen and Sharon R. Roseman eds. 2004. Intersecting Journeys: The Anthropology of Pilgrimage and Tourism. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

  • BeamanLori. 2006. “Labyrinth as Heterotopia: The Pilgrim’s Creation of Space.” In On the Road to Being There: Studies in Pilgrimage and Tourism in Late Modernity ed. William H. Swatos Jr.83-104. Leiden: Brill.

  • CagniniLariane. 2016. “Monumento gigante de santa Paulina gera controvérsias” [Giant monument of Santa Paulina generates controversy]. NSC 31 May.

  • CarneiroSandra de Sá. 2004. “Novas peregrinações brasileiras e suas interfaces com o turismo” [New Brazilian pilgrimages and their interface with tourism]. Ciencias Sociales y Religión/Ciências Sociais e Religião 6 (1): 71-100.

  • CarneiroSandra de Sá and C. A. Steil. 2008. “Peregrinação, turismo e nova era: Rotas de Santiago de Compostela no Brasil” [Pilgrimages tourism and New Age: Santiago ways in Brazil]. Religião & Sociedade 28: 105-124.

  • ColemanSimon. 2004. “Pilgrimage to ‘England’s Nazareth’: Landscapes of Myth and Memory at Walsingham.” In Badone and Roseman 200452-67.

  • ColemanSimon and John Eade eds. 2004. Reframing Pilgrimage: Cultures in Motion. London: Routledge.

  • Collins-KreinerNoga. 2010. “Geographers and Pilgrimages: Changing Concepts in Pilgrimage Tourism Research.” Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie 101 (4): 437-448.

  • Collins-KreinerNoga. 2016. “The Lifecycle of Concepts: The Case of ‘Pilgrimage Tourism’.” Tourism Geographies 18: 322-334.

  • EadeJohn and Mario Katić eds. 2014. Pilgrimage Politics and Place-Making in Eastern Europe: Crossing the Borders. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

  • EadeJohn and Michael J. Sallnow eds. 1991. Contesting the Sacred: The Anthropology of Christian Pilgrimage. London: Routledge.

  • FedeleAnna. 2014. “Energy and Transformation in Alternative Pilgrimages to Catholic Shrines: Deconstructing the Tourist/Pilgrim Divide.” Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 12 (2): 150-165.

  • FernandesSílvia. 2007. “Turismo e Religião: Notas para um debate sobre cidades, peregrinos e a Igreja Católica diante de um fenômeno em expansão” [Tourism and religion: Remarks on a debate about cities pilgrims and the Catholic Church in the face of a growing phenomenon]. Fragmentos de Cultura 17 (6): 1067-1081.

  • GiovanazDaniel Plassa. 2016. “Prefeitura em SC constrói estátua religiosa maior que o Cristo Redentor” [Municipality in SC builds larger religious statue than Christ the Redeemer]. UOL Daily News3 June.

  • Government of Brazil. 2011a. “A fé que move turistas” [Faith moves tourists]. 12 October.

  • Government of Brazil. 2011b. “Governo vai apoiar estruturação de destinos de turismo religioso” [Government will support the structuring of religious tourism destinations]. 12 July.

  • Government of Brazil. 2015. “Viagens motivadas pela fé mobilizam cerca de 18 milhões de pessoas” [Travel motivated by faith mobilizes about 18 million people]. 27 January.

  • Government of Santa Catarina State. 2016. “GT de turismo religioso faz reunião em Imbituba” [Religious tourism GT has a meeting in Imbituba]. 29 June.

  • MargryPeter Jan ed. 2008. Shrines and Pilgrimage in the Modern World: New Itineraries into the Sacred. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.

  • MeyerBirgit. 2011. “Mediation and Immediacy: Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies and the Question of the Medium.” Social Anthropology 19 (1): 23-39.

  • MorenoPedro. 2015. “Turismo Religioso Católico no Brasil: Perspectivas e Desafios de um Crescente Setor Econômico” [Catholic religious tourism in Brazil: Approaches and challenges of an increasing economic sector]. Anais dos Simpósios da ABHR15-17 April.

  • OakesTim and Donald S. Sutton. 2010. Faiths on Display: Religion Tourism and the Chinese State. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • RinschedeGisbert. 1992. “Forms of Religious Tourism.” Annals of Tourism Research 19: 51-67.

  • RonAmos S. 2009. “Towards a Typological Model of Contemporary Christian Travel.” Journal of Heritage Tourism 4 (4): 287-297.

  • RosemanSharon R. 2004. “Santiago de Compostela in the Year 2000: From Religious Center to European City of Culture.” In Badone and Roseman 200468-88.

  • SansiRoger. 2007. Fetishes and Monuments: Afro-Brazilian Art and Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Berghahn Journals.

  • SelkaStephan. 2015. “Our Lady of the Good Death: Afro-Catholic Festivals as Cultural Heritage in Brazil.” Les Carnets du Lahic 11: 199-217.

  • StausbergMichael. 2011. Religion and Tourism: Crossroads Destinations and Encounters. London: Routledge.

  • SteilCarlos A. 1996. O Sertão das Romarias: Um Estudo Antropológico sobre o Santuário de Bom Jesus da Lapa—Bahia [Pilgrimage in the backlands: An anthropological study about the Bom Jesus da Lapa Sanctuary—Bahia]. Petrópolis: Vozes.

  • SteilCarlos A. 2003. “Peregrinação, romaria e turismo religioso: Raízes etimológicas e interpretações antropológicas” [Pilgrimage peregrination and religious tourism: Etymological roots and anthropological interpretations]. In Abumanssur 200311-50.

  • StolowJeremy. 2005. “Religion and/as Media.” Theory Culture & Society 22 (4): 119-145.

  • TimothyDallen J. and Daniel H. Olsen eds. 2006. Tourism Religion and Spiritual Journeys. London: Routledge.

  • ToniolRodrigo and Carlos A. Steil. 2015. On the Nature Trail: Converting the Rural into the Ecological through a State Tourism Policy. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

  • Tourism Pastoral. 2015. “Pastoral do Turismo Prepara Estatuto e Planeja Atividades” [Tourism Pastoral prepares its statute and plans its activities]. 20 March.

  • VukonićBoris. 2006. “Sacred Places and Tourism in the Roman Catholic Tradition.” In Timothy and Olsen 237-253.

  • YelAli Murat. 2006. “Appropriation of Sacredness at Fátima in Portugal.” In Materializing Religion: Expression Performance and Ritual ed. Elizabeth Arweck and William Keenan221-235. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

Google Scholar