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Abstract

For humans, happiness can be a consequence of positive behaviours and regarded as their ultimate goal (Seligman, 2004). Since the late 1990s, happiness has been a prominent topic in the field of positive psychology, which seeks, from a psychological perspective, to understand how to make people happier and help them lead more satisfactory lives (Peterson et al., 2005; Seligman, 2004). According to Authentic Happiness Theory (AHT), developed by positive psychologist Martin Seligman (2004), seeking life satisfaction is a long-lasting life concept. As the understanding of tourism experience has evolved to see it as a life-changing event for profound intra-transformation of a person, religious experience during pilgrimage has been investigated to understand the holistic phenomenon of religious tourism (Andriotis, 2009; Belhassen et al., 2008). The experience of oneself in a sacred place is considered the key element that religious tourists seek during their visits to religious tourism destinations. During their visits to religious sites, they have particular experiences that can be mainly provided in these places through psychological and emotional changes. Moreover, religion has a significant impact on life satisfaction and happiness (Headey et al., 2010). This study applies AHT to religious tourism experiences and extends the model to the emotional aspect. This study aims to investigate the impact of religious tourism experiences on two personal values and focuses on the mediating role of emotional connection between religious tourism experience and personal values. For this study’s empirical analysis, religious tourists who answered that religion was important for their travel in Rome/Vatican City were asked to participate in a survey process. This study proves that religious tourism experiences affect happiness and self-satisfaction / fulfilment.

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