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Abstract

This paper proposes an innovative conceptual model based on a hierarchical structure for the assessment of pilgrimage routes, establishing and weighting the different associated elements. Based on a holistic approach, a Diagnostic Matrix was created which structures the surveying of predefined variables and enables the evaluation of pilgrimage routes. This tool allows an understanding of both, material and immaterial elements that comprise part of pilgrimage experiences, and of the respective routes as tourism products. Based on the case of the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, the proposed matrix enables the diagnosis of the entire route, as well as partial analysis, which can be sector specific (e.g. accommodation), or region / locality specific (e.g. municipality level). From the diagnosis, intervention plans can emerge, identifying the needs and actions to be implemented. The Conceptual Model and subsequent Diagnostic Matrix allows the public, private and voluntary sectors, such as local authorities, associations and economic agents, to better comprehend what role to play in the overall improvement and development of the Route based on existing good practices. Although this study is based on a specific route, it is expected that the same methodology can be applied to other pilgrimage routes, after proceeding with necessary adjustments to the specificities of the respective context.

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