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Innovation has emerged as a re-occurring theme for the sustainability and competitiveness of the tourism and hospitality industry, and for faith-based tourism, the many and on-going changes within the demographics and purchasing behavior of the religious market in the past 10-20 years (Leisure Travel Group, 2013) calls for innovative approaches to enhancing the visitor experience, and attracting visitors. As Manson suggests, either you ‘innovate or die’. In so doing, Ireland is determined to foster an innovation culture for the sustainability of the tourism industry (Failte Ireland, 2009) based on the vision that the tourism industry is expected to continually play a very significant role in Ireland’s future economic growth, while making use of religious sites.
This innovative approach in utilising religious heritage as part of a destination marketing tool is evident in the development of the emerging Ancient East project, a new tourism product bundling initiative to include six early Christian sites in the East of Ireland as part of the trail. Therefore, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the role religious and pilgrimage tourism attractions play in marketing Ireland as a destination, a mixed methodological approach to data collection has been employed. Approaches include questionnaire surveys and desk research (government reports, media coverage, websites,) and expert conversations.
To date, religious and pilgrimage heritage sites have been considered as fundamental gateways to success and economic recovery. They form an integral part of innovative destination marketing and visitor experience management strategies. Sacred sites are an invaluable tool in marketing Ireland internationally
Enongene, V. & Griffin, K. (2015). Religious Tourism Product Bundling an Innovative Approach to Destination Marketing and Visitor Experience Management: The case of Early Christian Sites in the East of Ireland, Global Management Perspectives, International Annual Conference, Novara, Italy, 21-24th of October