Our project idea is to offer a transnational spiritual tourism product which will attract mainly but not only the youth tourism market. The product consists on an itinerary which crosses several European countries having the common theme of spiritually, understood in a global sense. The memory sites proposed in the itinerary will include both, natural resources and landscape and cultural and heritage sites which fit into the spirituality concept already described (retirement, creative tourism activities, personal development courses...), with the specificity that this offer must be available during the medium and low season.
Our proposal is that, initially each of the three territories covered by the project should identify those resources and activities that fit into the theme but also which match the sustainability and competitiveness criteria, which will be developed by a specific Committee developed by the project consortium.
A longer term objective is that other territories from different countries will join the itinerary by providing their spiritual tourism offer in compliance with the above mentioned criteria. The economic potential of this product is based on the assumption that the above mentioned trends of the youth market travel match the growing spiritual tourism demand. For this purpose a complete research of these two markets will be carried out and its results integrated into the business plan of the product including a sustainability strategy entitling the support of the consortium beyond the project. With this proposal we aim at increase the transnational mobility.
The model which inspires our concept of itinerary is the Saint James Way, from which we borrow the idea of providing a sort of certification card similar to the Saint James Way credential. This card will be sealed after participating in the different activities proposed. In order to obtain the "final certificate" each participant must have visited the participant countries and must have participated in at least 6 activities in each country. The final requirements for certification should be adapted according to the results of the market research (WP1 and WP2) and the pilot test (WP4), which we will carry out.
Depending on the various contributions that have been made, and as mentioned above, we can talk about:
a) Spiritual tourism with cultural motivations; or Cultural Tourism with spiritual motivations. Spiritual tourism can occur in areas belonging to the cultural heritage (historical, artistic and architectural). There are several authors that have related spirituality to art and that find, both in contemplation and creation, a source of spiritual force.
b) Spiritual tourism related to nature. Natural landscapes and rural areas are linked to values such as peace and quietness, so they offer opportunities for meditation and reflection. Literature exploring the relations between rural tourism and spiritually also exists. Moreover trends talk about slow tourism, slow food, and healthy food that work for both types of tourism. In this block, topics related to wellness are also included (being spirituality and fiscally healthy).
c) Spiritual tourism itself. More and more places are becoming places of "retirement" for those who are interested in spiritual vacations; and the offer of spirituality courses, personal development and alternative therapies is increasing. This growth is explained not only by the fact that people are more aware of their own spirituality, but also because of practical constraints of everyday life. The heavy daily routine makes people want to retire because they don’t have time to do it even in their leisure time. So, holidays are becoming an important space for personal development, spirituality and creativity. Therefore, this type of tourism can be associated with creative tourism (self-expression), health and wellness activities and tourism in natural environments. Here, we can include, also, pilgrimages and participating in activities related to different religious traditions.
The general objectives of this project are:
1) Exploiting the potential of young people mobility within EU-27 for leisure purposes, mainly out of the main tourism season, following sustainable tourism principles.
“Young travelers are the pioneers who discover new destinations. The high value of youth travel also lies in the ‘lifetime value’ that young people deliver to destinations through their travel career. They often return to the places they have visited in later life.”
2) Increase the innovation and competitiveness of the tourism sector by the means of young travelers: a dynamic a key economic market player in the travel industry.
“Young people are often at the forefront of such innovation, because they are willing to cross boundaries and make new links. As early-adopting, heavy users of new technology, young people are pioneering the use of social networking sites and mobile media in searching for travel information and purchasing products.”
3) Contribute to the intercultural dialogue, reinforce the European cultural identity and foster the European citizenship of the future generations through sustainable tourism practices.
The specific objectives of this project are:
1) Better defining the spiritual tourism concept and finding the complementarities that will match it with the needs and preferences of young travelers
“The intrepid nature of experienced young travelers leads them to visit parts of the world that are ‘ff the beaten track' while “the added value to be extracted from youth travel lies in innovation, positioning, cultural links, international trade and exchange, social support, education, learning support for local communities, and so on.”
2) Fostering transnational cooperation among several actors in Europe and in particular the establishment of public privat partnerships policy makers – associations – academia – private, through the creation of a transnational route based on spiritual tourism
3) Supporting tourism SMEs within the territory tackled by the project in their capacity to exploit the existing, and developing new, spiritual tourism offer, to adapt to new products and markets, enabling young travelers – but not only – to leave a unique experience, increasing their competitiveness and working towards more sustainable tourism in their area of business.
“In an era of unprecedented challenge for the travel industry, youth travel represents not just an important market segment, but also a vital resource for innovation and change”
4) Work on the sustainability and competitiveness of a spiritual tourism itinerary for young people in cooperation with the EICR and explore the possibility of developing a widerEuropean Itinerary based on spirituality.