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Eco-sustainable Routes and Religious Tourism: An Opportunity for Local Development. The Case Study of Sicilian Routes

Tourism in the Mediterranean Sea

ISBN: 978-1-80043-901-6, eISBN: 978-1-80043-900-9

Publication date: 1 March 2021


In the last few decades, tourism has become one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world, with an increasing economic, social and environmental role. It has been recognised as a strategic driver, able not only to heighten economic growth, employment and enhancement of cultural values, diversity and heritage, but also to help countries transition towards more inclusive and resilient economies. In this framework, slow tourism has been playing an important role, compliant with the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its different forms – such as eco-tourism, rural and village tourism, as well as religious routes – can improve social inclusiveness, poverty reduction and environmental protection while empowering host communities, generating trade opportunities and fostering peace and intercultural understanding.

The pilgrimage on religious routes in particular has been showing a renewed potential. This ancient practice, largely rooted in many confessions as an expression of a mainly religious experience has been gaining new values for both people and territories hosting destinations: its target groups of travellers have enlarged to those looking for spiritual holidays (individuals and groups) as well as well-being and integrated experiences combining religious sites, cultural heritage, landscape and nature, traditions and crafts, food, wine and local events (shared with local people to feel part of the local community). This form of tourism responds to the sustainability challenge as an opportunity for local development in depopulated areas, but still rich in history, nature, art and traditions.

On this basis, this chapter deals with eco-sustainable and religious tourist routes in Sicily (South Italy), focusing on: (1) their relevance in relation to emerging strategies and policies (i.e. cultural ecclesial parks, regional development plans, etc.) (2) and their aptitude to generate sustainable and innovative local development. In particular, it addresses the recent experiences in progress on the Itinerarium Rosaliae in Sicily as opportunities for sustainable and local development.



Notarstefano, G. and Gristina, S. (2021), "Eco-sustainable Routes and Religious Tourism: An Opportunity for Local Development. The Case Study of Sicilian Routes", Grasso, F. and Sergi, B.S. (Ed.) Tourism in the Mediterranean Sea, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 217-239.



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