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Abstract

In this article the authors discuss the accessibility of religious architectural heritage, using the case of Santiago de Compostela and one of its routes: the Portuguese Central Way between Porto and Valença. The discussion includes a comparison with results obtained in a study of the itinerary between Tui and Santiago, made by Xunta de Galicia (2015), the only existing study to the best of our knowledge. The historical and theoretical framework draws on the extant literature and its critical review, related to religious and cultural tourism, with special emphasis on accessible tourism. Accessible Tourism must comprise a set of products and / or services that offer equal opportunity of use to all citizens, regardless their capacity. The use of good practices in leisure and tourism equipment and services is fundamental, so the tourist supply must be reconfigured to ensure the necessary means for the enjoyment and circulation in different public and private spaces. An empirical study was conducted using the official statistics provided by the Pilgrim's Office of Santiago de Compostela, between 2004 and 2017. The results show an exponential increase of pilgrims / religious and cultural tourists during and after the last Holy Year (2010). The statistical and analytical characterisation of the distinct types of accessibilities to the places of worship and to the shelters, allowed a reflection on the existing ones and the need for transformation of the cultural equipment and pilgrims' hostels located in the studied section of the Santiago Way, in order to make accessible religious tourism for all a reality. The results of this study are identical to the results of a similar study conducted in Galicia. However, in Galicia, the study was carried out by official entities and has already led to the elaboration and implementation of a plan to overcome difficulties and problems related to accessibility. In Portugal there is only the result of the research that we have been developing.

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