Capacity Building for Spiritual Heritage Tourism: The Case of India and Pakistan

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Capacity building and raising awareness through education and training is key to conservation, development, and preservation of centuries’ old spiritual heritage tourism sites, places, and spiritual places of worship, monuments, cultural, and natural heritage in India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan have numerous centuries old sites from the ancient to the medieval period; Buddhist, Islamic, and Hindu spiritual heritage tourism sites and monuments, which need to be preserved through capacity building and making people aware of conservation of these cultural and natural spiritual heritage. These spiritual cultural and natural heritages have to be protected and preserved from natural disaster and vandalism by the people and visitors for future generations. Public and private partnerships are required for capacity building at global, national, and regional level to reap the cultural, social, recreational, and economic benefits for sustainable long-term impact from spiritual heritage preservation, protection, and promotion.


This chapter examines the capacity building for preservation, protection, promotion, and development of “spiritual heritage tourism” (SHT) of eight major religious heritage sites present in India and Pakistan. Heritage tourism is being appreciated and recognized by tourism agencies around the world in general, and by government agencies in particular. The low cost of product development, high natur al differentiation, flexible delivery, rich spiritual and cultural heritage, and high tourist loyalty are the key features of heritage tourism (Haq and Medhekar, 2018). Heritage tourism is also known to augment the capacity building of a place or a nation based on education, training, conservation workshops, marketing, sustainability, site identity, and heritage preservation for the future generations by involving local communities.

Heritage tourism also helps to create innumerable opportunities for employment in heritage education, heritage management, preservation, conservation, building and architecture, heritage culture and arts, zoologist, botanist, and capacity-building training and workshops for heritage tourism awareness programs. Further, countries with population belonging to various religious minorities in particular, should include “SHT" education at school and university level to promote preservation, peace, all-inclusive unity-in-diversity of centuries old rich spiritual cultural heritage in India and Pakistan for the following eight religious sites: (1) Buddhism, (2) Christianity, (3) Hinduism, (4) Islam, (5) Jainism, (6) Judaism, (7) Sikhism, and (8) Zoroastrianism. Furthermore, it is essential to also include protection and conservation of the “spiritual nature of natural heritage,” such as the Himalayan mountains, lakes, forests, and nature’s beauty with embodies various spiritual heritage places of worships also needs capacity building programs for its preservation for the future generations.

Capacity building, therefore, is essential for these ST heritage monuments to be marketed as a vehicle of peace for social transformation and economic progress of the two countries, which have shared the history of spiritual heritage sites. Tourism management, government, and operators around the world are recognizing the growth of SHT amidst the proliferation of various types of fun-based tourism (Seraphim and Haq, 2018). For such a task one needs capacity building within the countries and between the countries in mutual partnership to build values of preserving and promoting such SHT for economic prosperity and peace between the two nations. However, SHT development and preservation is faced with many opportunities, benefits, and challenges in countries such as India and Pakistan. Therefore, it is important to present to the world the untapped heritage, in order to reap the social, cultural, recreational, and economic benefits from capacity building through SHT.

SHT education for preservation of spiritual heritage is the need of the century in many developing countries, which will be analyzed in this chapter with the purpose of capacity building to identify challenges to develop and preserve spiritual heritage (Bandyopadhyay et al., 2008; Haq and Medhekar, 2017; Timothy and Boyd, 2003) for employment opportunities, economics progress, and prosperity of the regions where these spiritual heritage sites are located. According to Sirnone-Charters and Boyd (2010), spiritual/religious/pilgrirnage tourism is a segment of cultural heritage tourism. It is one of the oldest forms of travel since human history and most significant in context of volume of tourists for most religions of the world (Haq and Medhekar 2015; Sharpley and Sundararn, 2005; Shinde, 2007; Timothy and Olsen, 2006).

India and Pakistan are made up of people following many diverse religious spiritual orientations, languages, and cultures. This multi-faith diversity provides a competitive edge to be a world leader in the market of spiritual tourism as a vehicle for global peace (Haq and Medhekar, 2013). From historical times, followers of Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Christianity Judaism, and Zoroastrians have been living peacefully and have built tangible and intangible spiritual heritage sites for centuries. Both countries are blessed with built spiritual monuments, places of worships, and gardens linked to the major religious and spiritual beliefs, hence presenting the world with some of the best untapped religious centers and spiritual nature in the world (Chakraborty, 2011; Kumar and Singh, 2015; Medhekar and Haq, 2009; Shinde, 2007). However, what is required is to build capacity for awareness to develop and preserve SHT sites within the country, and between the two countries due to shared mutual history, culture, spirituality, and civilization for economic prosperity and peace.

The purpose of this chapter is to: (1) examine the significance of SHT development in India and Pakistan with focus on eight key religions.

(2) Propose capacity-building strategies for SHT development and preservation for economic progress, prosperity, and peace of the region based on spiritual heritage attractions. (3) Evaluate the challenges and opportunities faced in development of SHT and benefits for the local economy. (4) Propose a public-private partnership (PPPs) framework that could be adopted in India and Pakistan for capacity building to develop, preserve, and promote SHT as a peace initiative and submit proposals for nomination to UNESCO world heritage listing. This chapter aims to provide a platform for capacity building with the aim for preservation and promotion of SHT for economic development in existing and neglected cultural and natural SHT in India and Pakistan, and empower the local communities for protection and preservation of the spiritual heritage sites for their sustainable future.

This chapter is structured as follows. The first introductory section of the chapter introduces the growing economic importance and significance of SHT development and preservation. Section 2.2 provides the literature review on SHT development, preservation, and promotion for socioeconomic progress and prosperity, in case of India and Pakistan. Section 2.3 discusses the case study examples from India and Pakistan SHT site development, preservation. and promotion for economic prosperity and nomination of the spiritual heritage sites for UNESCO world heritage listing. Section 2.4 outlines challenges and opportunities of capacity building through SHT development and preseivation for nomination to UNESCO for economic prosperity and peace. Finally, Section 2.5 discusses and recommends PPPs needed for capacity building within and between the two nations to develop, preserve, and market SHT sites and managerial and policy implications, conclusion, and future research directions to advance the knowledge in the field of SHT as a vehicle to promote peace and economic prosperity and progress between the two nations.


Capacity Building: The International Centre for the Study of the Preseivation and Restoration of Cultural Property is consulted for capacity building within world heritage convention framework under the United Nations. There are two types of heritage: Cultural Heritage and the Natural Heritage (Kumar and Singh, 2015). UNESCO organizes information seminars and training workshops for capacity building, in countries with rich cultural and natural heritage, providing legal, operational, educational and awareness raising programs to protect the cultural property from illegal damage and trafficking (UNESCO, 2019a).

The first joint global strategy for capacity building for cultural heritage and natural heritage was held in Helsinki Finland. The outcome was to provide training to professionals to implement World Heritage convention in order to “manage world heritage properties and to strengthen technical, scientific, and traditional skills for the conservation of cultural and natural heritage” (ICCROM, 2019). It also focused on developing regional training strategies for capacity building of world heritage by developing (1) world heritage resources manual, (2) training and education on preparing nomination of heritage sites for world heritage title and periodic reporting, and

(3) technical and management training on cultural heritage and natural heritage.

Spiritual Heritage Tourism Preservation, Protection, Promotion, and Management: SHT sites can be used for building capacity to preserve, conserve, and promote for economic prosperity and peace within and between the two nations. Research and education in heritage preservation, history, respect for all SHT sites and religious sites is required to keep them operational as living museums for students, scholars, and tourists, so that the SHT sites, places of worships, its surrounding gardens, spiritual souvenirs shops, and spiritual cultural ritual and festivals are well conserved and protected for the cunent and future generations. Research can also help to acquire the funding from government as well as private sector businesses and from individuals and non-government organizations volunteering help to provide expertise in protecting and preserving these SHT sites for peace building as well as for employment creation and income generation and becoming self-sustaining for preserving SHT thorough PPP programs. The main goal of any spiritual heritage site should be to respect it irrespective of any spiritual orientation and appreciate its historical, cultural, social, national, and local pride, educational, recreational, and economic value for cunent and future generations.

In terms of economic benefit and capacity building from SHT, it is essential for reaping the economic benefits from conservation, protection, and promotion of spiritual heritage sites, which is possible by preparing submissions for UNESCO world heritage listing. Garrod and Fyall’s (2000) empirically recognized research on heritage tourism management concluded that management of heritage for tourism purposes depended upon eight elements: conservation, accessibility, education, relevance, local community, financial, recreation, and quality. The last three elements of financial, recreation, and quality are incorporated in the other five elements as seen later in Table 2.1. Therefore, capacity building from SHT faces many challenges particularly for India and Pakistan as they have thousands of years old numerous spiritual heritage sites belonging to eight religions. The two countries need to focus on cultural and natural spiritual heritage (1) conservation, (2) accessibility, (3) heritage education,

(4) relevance, (5) local community, (6) financial and funding needs, (7) quality of heritage conservation and restoration work, and (8) spiritual heritage social, cultural, recreational, and economic values.

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