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Data mining to reposition a religious tourist destination in COVID-19

Natalia Vila-Lopez (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics, University of València, València, Spain)
Ines Kuster-Boluda (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Economics, University of València, València, Spain)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 1 December 2022




The positioning of a tourism destination can easily change due to external uncontrolled factors, such as a pandemic. In this scene, the purpose of this study can be summerized in two main points: to investigate the main topics associated with a religious tourism destination (Vatican City) before and from the pandemic crisis, and to identify potential topics that could be highlighted to reposition this tourism destination more favorably.


The information was extracted from Trip Advisor, specifically from the web Vatican City (7,152 reviews). This information was analyzed using text mining software applied to English text data.


The results show that the image of Vatican City has evolved, from a larger cultural, artistic and historical destination to a destination with a strong religious orientation, probably due to the growing influence of tourists and pilgrims in search of spiritual consolation in a global health crisis. New comments have emerged in the pandemic on topics such as Pope, Catholicism and love.

Practical implications

The authors recommend repositioning this tourism destination under what they have dubbed the umbrella of the three “Rs”: religion, renaissance and relaxation. Also, two outstanding attractions are frequently mentioned by tourists in this more spiritual scenario: Saint Peter’s Basilica and Sistine Chapel.


Studies about religious tourism are scarce, and those considering an urban city as a key religious tourism destination even more.



This paper has been financed by Regional Ministry of Innovation, Universities, Science and the Digital Society. Consellería de Innovación, Universidades, Ciencia y Sociedad Digital – AICO 2022 CIAICO/2021/062: “El deporte en la construcción de marca país: el turista y el residente.


Vila-Lopez, N. and Kuster-Boluda, I. (2022), "Data mining to reposition a religious tourist destination in COVID-19", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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