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Abstract

There is a growing awareness of sustainable practices at religious tourism sites and we have observed this in Hungary, with the focus shifting from one aspect of sustainability to incorporating all three major aspects, the environmental, the economic and the socio-cultural (Rees and Wackernagel, 1996). Although the economic aspect used to be predominant (Shackley, 2001; Mangeloja, 2003) now we can find more examples of practices that aim to promote socio-cultural sustainability, while taking the natural environment also into account (Tanguay et al, 2010).

Several religious tourism sites have started to offer local produce in their souvenir shops and to incorporate them into the services they provide, even turning them into part of the attraction. However, we cannot label this as a new phenomenon as centuries ago it was the practice of the monasteries to produce potentially everything they needed, and the names of some of the goods we consume today still refer to orders or monks (such as cheese, wine, beer, etc.) We can argue that the use of local produce is not merely a marketing tool or an additional source of income for the religious tourism sites but is also aimed to both satisfy the needs of the order the sites are run by and to preserve some of the lesser known traditions that were once part of the everyday life of the Church (Thurley and Wood, 2010; UNESCO, 2014).

This article aims to explore the traditions of producing local goods at selected religious tourism sites and to assess their current practices. The assessment is based on site visits and interviews with the managers of the sites to explore the breadth of local produce in their offering of services and goods (primarily souvenirs), the origin of those (both in terms of tradition and manufacture) and how they contribute to sustainable development. The utilisation of local produce reinforces the links between the sites’ core religious values and those of the communities they operate within and are part of, thereby supporting not only religious values but also wider social cultures and heritages.

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