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Abstract

The present study analyses in a holistic and multidisciplinary approach the motivations that tourists have to visit sacred places. The goal is to find out what are the key motivational factors that determine their choice. It supplies an extensive literature review focusing on the concept of motivations, which allows us to identify the main reasons that draw people to sites.

The fieldwork of this study includes pilgrims and or tourists at three sacred sites: Fátima (Portugal), Santiago de Compostela (Spain) and Jerusalem (Israel). Fieldwork includes surveys of 633 tourists from different religions visiting these symbolic places who belong to generations of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials.

The results show the existence of a multidimensional scale that incorporates three dimensions of motivation to visit sacred places as tourist destinations: (1) Faith, (2) Personal enrichment and (3) Calling. However, due to the differences of generations - Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennials - the importance and significance of each of those motivations for the tourists who visit these sacred places is different.

The present study has important implications for the marketing and planning of sacred destinations, particularly in the development of strategies of segmentation, targeting and positioning, through the disclosure of the differentiated characteristics valued by each age group of tourists.

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