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The perspective of religious and spiritual tourism research: a systematic mapping study

Ali Heidari (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)
Hamid Reza Yazdani (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Qom, Iran)
Fatemeh Saghafi (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)
Mohammad Reza Jalilvand (Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran)

Journal of Islamic Marketing

ISSN: 1759-0833

Article publication date: 1 October 2018

Issue publication date: 18 October 2018




Religious tourism is a form of tourism where people of a particular faith travel to visit places of religious significance in their faith. Previous research into the various aspects of religious and spiritual tourism (RST) has been noticeably extended. The purpose of this study is to perform systematic mapping to provide trends and classification regarding the recent publications in the area of RST.


This study collected 181 papers from five scientific databases, from which 122 were selected to be classified according to six properties: research type, research focus, research method, investigated religion, publication type and time.


The analysis of these data resulted in a map of the research field, which was presented under three perspectives: the distribution and trends over time of each classification property and the relationship between them. Besides the visual map, the full list of classified papers is available. The results showed that the number of publications is increasing every year, which shows a growing interest in this field. Moreover, the primary research focuses were destination, demand and marketing. Top three journals were found to be International Journal of Tourism Research, Tourism Recreation Research and Journal of Heritage Tourism. Furthermore, evaluation research, solution proposals and opinion papers were the main research types in the area. In addition, the majority of studies focused on Christianity and Islam. Finally, survey, discussion paper, interview and case study were the predominantly used research methods.


The mapping study delivers the first systematic summary of RST research.



The authors sincerely acknowledge the anonymous reviewer for giving constructive criticisms for improving the overall character of this review paper. The remarks given by the reviewer has certainly helped the authors in fine-tuning this paper, which may be of interest to the readers. This paper is based on the second chapter of PhD dissertation of fourth author under the title of “Modelling Dynamics of Religious Tourism Networks: A Future-Oriented Approach” in the Faculty of Management, University of Tehran, Iran.


Heidari, A., Yazdani, H.R., Saghafi, F. and Jalilvand, M.R. (2018), "The perspective of religious and spiritual tourism research: a systematic mapping study", Journal of Islamic Marketing, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 747-798.



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