Religious Tourism in Turkey

Nuray Turker


Alternative types of tourism represent great potential for the future tourism market (McKercher and Cros 2002). In particular, cultural, heritage, and religious tourism, which each support the development of the other, are tourism types that have been growing rapidly.

Starting with the 1990s, one of the strategies of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT) has been to promote alternative types of tourism in order to increase the number of tourists, to develop the local economies of small communities and rural areas, and to extend tourism activities throughout the whole year while meeting the changing needs and motivations of tourists. Turkey can increase its number of visitors by organizing off-season tourist packages, since it offers significant potential for alternative types of tourism. Based on the wider long-term benefits tourism brings to local economies, which leads to sustained enhancement of cultural facilities in the region and of quality of life in both urban and rural settings, the MoCT has listed 316 religious monuments in order to increase the religious tourism in the country. The Anatolian (Turkish) history and culture is characterized by the polytheistic (or pagan) religions, as well as Christian, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, and Islamic elements.

Since early times, faith has been an important reason for traveling. Pilgrimage, which comprises religious travel to a shrine or a sacred place, is one of the oldest forms of tourism (Cohen 1992; Digance 2003; Timothy and Olsen 2006; Rinschede 1992). During a pilgrimage, people travel with the intention of executing certain religious tasks or seeking supernatural help or forgiveness of their sins. [1] [2]

Given the importance of the development of religious tourism as a type of alternative tourism in Turkey, this chapter aims to determine the most important religious resources for Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. In order to determine the religious potential of Turkey and to summarize the related literature, secondary sources, such as scientific papers, newspaper articles, Web sites, brochures, data from governmental agencies, and researcher observations are used as sources of information.

The structure of this paper is as follows. First, a brief review of the religious tourism literature is presented. Then, Turkey’s religious tourism resources are identified. Finally, problems that arise in the development of religious tourism in Turkey, and the potential provided by religious tourism, are discussed. It is vital to conduct research on the profiles of religious tourists and their specific motivations regarding Turkey to cover the gap in the literature.

  • [1] N. Turker (H) Safranbolu Tourism Faculty, Karabuk University, Safranbolu, Turkeye-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer International Publishing AG 2016
  • [2] Egresi (ed.), Alternative Tourism in Turkey, GeoJournal Library 121,DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-47537-0_10
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