Destination Conscience

Cover of Destination Conscience

Seeking Meaning and Purpose in the Travel Experience



Table of contents

(17 chapters)

The tourism industry is facing significant challenges in an ever-changing world marked by globalisation, digitalisation and societal shifts. The issues of overtourism and massification exacerbate concerns about sustainability and the industry's impact on the environment and local communities. These concerns arise as profit-driven ideologies overshadow the industry's original vocation to contribute to meaningful encounters, well-being and social justice. This chapter explores the cultivation of humaneness and conscience within tourism through education, knowledge and personal reflection. Drawing inspiration from Hannah Arendt's interpretation of Socrates' philosophy, it highlights the importance of critical thinking and a comprehensive understanding of the industry's role in shaping alternative futures. Tourism higher education plays a pivotal role in empowering students to become catalysts for systemic transformation. Furthermore, this chapter emphasises the value of embracing diverse viewpoints and engaging in meaningful encounters and dialogues with local communities and stakeholders to collaboratively imagine and implement sustainable practices. Only by dismantling entrenched habits through critical thinking and fostering collaboration can the tourism industry envision alternative trajectories towards a more conscientious and humane path forward.


Tourism recovery after the pandemic has failed to take the path leading to sensitivity and humaneness at destination level. This chapter argues that to open this path, we need to confront the belief that tourists are self-centred, fun-driven and cheating individuals. This view on tourists and more generally human beings is central to the neoliberal understanding of consumers. It has moreover taken a strong grasp on the mind of economists, politicians, academics and the public at large.

To counteract this idea, I call upon Aristotle's discussion of friendship. In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle distinguishes between three forms of friendship: of utility, of pleasure, and of goodwill. Utility implies a relationship where people befriend each other in virtue of some good or service that they get or expect to get from each other. Friendships of utility, therefore, imply reciprocation. Friendships of pleasure can also be understood as a form of reciprocal altruism. However, friendships of goodwill are different because they are felt for others for their own sake and not in expectation of a favour in return. Friendships of goodwill include therefore others who may not be able to reciprocate, such as tourists staying only a short time at a destination. Looking through the lens of friendships of goodwill, one could argue that all tourists, including short-stay visitors, will be friendly and caring towards their hosts.

This chapter explores the soundness of friendships of goodwill in the light of more recent research on human nature. It also discusses its implications for our understanding of human beings, the relationship between hosts and guests, and ultimately the opportunity to steer tourism along a more sensitive, human and sustainable path.


This chapter examines the role of heritage as a means of empowering destination communities and providing deeper and more meaningful encounters between tourists and their destination, which contributes to the notion of Destination Conscience by highlighting more sustainable and humane ways of ‘doing’ tourism and opening places up to greater community involvement and access by visitors. This includes heritage concepts such as Indigenous communities, local spirituality and religious traditions, public archaeology and ordinary heritage, and how these translate into deeper engagement between residents and tourists, community empowerment and a more creative and holistic tourist experiences. Conceptually, this chapter highlights notions of empowerment, tourists' experiences and Destination Conscience.


Pilgrimage is a special form of conscious travel – maybe even the most conscious one – and therefore, awareness is one part thereof. As a result of this quality, which is gaining importance in Western society, pilgrimage is currently experiencing a renaissance (but not just for religious or spiritual reasons). No other pilgrimage route can be compared to the Camino to Santiago de Compostela in terms of numbers of pilgrims, popularity and fascination, and with around half a million pilgrims, the city broke its record again in 2022. The focus of this essay is the following question: is there a ‘Destination Conscience’ in relation to the Camino, and if so, who creates and uses it, and does it change over time? In terms of methodology, existing scientific studies are re-analysed and the results of field studies by RWTH Aachen University evaluated, in order to examine the contributions made by various stakeholders (travellers, local population, tourism providers, institutions, etc.) to the development of a possible ‘Destination Conscience’ pilgrimage. Through personal interactions and cultural exchange, they develop common values and a common awareness. On the other hand, these different expectations and changing perspectives also lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. The example of the Camino shows that ‘Destination Conscience’ is not a state but a process, and change is an essential part of this quality.


This chapter addresses the question of what normatively binding claims can be associated with the principle of sustainability. It proposes a theoretical reading of justice that requires a new level of morality, namely a global (spatial), intergenerational (temporal) and ecological (material) extension of the scope of responsibility. This makes it plausible that responsibility for those who are distant in space and time, as well as for nature, becomes a matter of conscience. At the same time, it is shown how the binding claims resulting from the principle of sustainability can be internalised in the course of a conscience formation and how the gap between knowledge and action in questions of sustainable development can be closed by means of an emotional underpinning. Finally, it is proposed to transfer the question of conscience to spatial units and tourism through the model of ‘Destination Conscience’ and to institutionalise the idea of ‘inner commitment’ or self-commitment. One suggestion is the creation of committees that could be a collective ethical conscience for the future issues.


The predominant neoliberal structure of capitalism and tourism as the fuel of capitalism exposes growing problems of injustice, unfairness and inequality. Places and communities around the world are currently expressing the need for radical changes in placemaking to be able to think, plan and act differently. This theoretical contribution adopts a humanistic management (HM) perspective of placemaking to promote places where people enjoy living, working, interacting and having meaningful experiences. Tourist destinations are relevant places to discuss the application of HM principles in practice and promote humanistic destinations and the humanisation of placemaking. This chapter concludes by arguing for an interface with eco-centric and posthumanist transformative approaches to promote holistic value-based placemaking and regeneration of places.


In this world of complexity, disruption, multi-layered crises and insecurity, people seek orientation, stability and meaning. This desire exists in everyday life, in working environments and even more in vacation time. Therefore, the way we see the world and how we interact with each other and with nature should also be reflected by tourist destinations. ‘Destination Conscience’ seems to be a promising conception that offers the desired contemporary design of destination realities and travel experiences. Accordingly, destinations and their products should be characterised by authenticity, meaning, sensitivity and humaneness on all levels. In this chapter, the concept of ‘integral ecology’ as a holistic worldview and new paradigm is presented. Integral ecology can be a source of perception and wisdom that enriches the ‘conscience’ of a destination and all its actors. Hence, this chapter addresses the question of how integral ecology can contribute to Destination Conscience. The essay uses the methods of literature review, application, transfer and case study.

Firstly, the concept of integral ecology will be presented. In the second part, this worldview will be applied to destinations. The enrichment of Destination Conscience by the principles of integral ecology can manifest in the destination's self-image and in the interaction in business relations and business actions. It can find expression in the operational management, organisation and development of a destination and in the design of the touristic services and products. In the third part, the case study of a Catholic monastery in the Altmühltal will be presented for further illustration.


A primary urban destination can be accessed through its regional periphery. Thus, while a city centre may be the primary attraction, by approaching it from and through the periphery, suburbs can become part of the place and marginalised people as part of the destination from a more holistic perspective. Tourists who are more attuned to the various layers of the transformation of a destination may be more attentive visitors and might empathise and engage with the lives and survival of others when given an opportunity to reflect on other elements of the destination beyond the central area. As part of a field trip to Rome, the Chair of Tourism of the Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt explored the inequalities at the periphery of Rome as a destination with undergraduate students from the Faculty of Mathematics and Geography. The results show that a holistic impression and deep understanding of a destination can only be gained by visiting both: its centre and its periphery. Moreover, the centre and periphery of a destination can then be compared in terms of, for example, poor or rich, well kept or unkempt, or native or migrant. However, these comparisons should not be used to look at poverty or similar factors, but to develop an awareness of differences and to look behind the typical tourist zones of a destination. In this case, we suggest that tourist routes can be key in providing a more holistic experience in an historic city.


The Case Valdesi (Waldensian Houses) are non-profit structures, managed by the Diaconia Valdese, that propose a value-based and value-driven model of hospitality. There are nine hospitality facilities (six guest houses, two hotels and one hostel) located in different Italian venues, open to individual travellers, families or groups who look for unconventional tourism experiences such as slow-paced visits to artistic and natural attractions, retreats, informal symposia, as well as creative projects. The guest houses welcome international students and volunteers who provide hospitality services. They host refugees and asylum seekers when needed and encourage connections and mutual exchanges among people with diverse life experiences. Moreover, they use the hospitality revenues to support educational and social welfare projects. This chapter will present the Waldensian model of hospitality through a case study based on observations and qualitative data collected during fieldwork, proposing it as one of the possible sources of inspiration for the creation of human destinations.


The notion of deeper experiences of Hindu devotees inspired by divine images and sacred places has roots in the historical past, going back to the Vedic period (ca. 2500 BCE), where we find rich literature on performances, rituals and merits of pilgrimages. Considered the bridge between human beings and divinities, the experiences received are the resultant ‘blissful fruit’ (phala) that helps the spiritual healing of pilgrims through awakening conscience and understanding the manifested meanings, symbolism, purposes and gains. This system can be viewed concerning the ‘texts’ (the mythology, ancient text and related narratives) and the ‘context’ (contemporality and living tradition). These rules and performances have regional perspectives of distinctions, but they also carry the sense of universality, i.e. locality (sthānic) and universality (sarvavyāpika) interfaces. The devout Hindus reflect their experiences in conception, perception, reception and co-sharedness – altogether making the wholistic network of belief systems, i.e. the religious wholes in Hindu society. This chapter deals with four aspects: the historical and cultural contexts, the meanings and merits received, the motives and the journey and interfacing experiences. The study is based on the experiential and questionnaire-based exposition and interviews of pilgrims at nine holy places during 2015–2019 on various festive occasions and is illustrated with ancient texts and treatises. The sacred cities included are Prayagraj, Varanasi, Gaya, Ayodhya, Vindhyachal, Ganga Sagar, Chitrakut, Mathura Vrindavana and Bodh Gaya.

Cover of Destination Conscience
Publication date
Book series
New Perspectives in Tourism and Hospitality Management
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited