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Burak Kartal, Mustafa Tepeci and Hakan Atlı
This paper aims to, by having a marketing perspective, assess the potential of Manisa for religious tourism and shed some light on the ways of increasing that potential…
This paper aims to, by having a marketing perspective, assess the potential of Manisa for religious tourism and shed some light on the ways of increasing that potential and to add to the religious tourism literature and practice in general.
A number of depth interviews were conducted with the experts of culture, tourism, religion and religious assets in Manisa. People and institutions regarding religious tourism were called, visited and asked for the names of right interviewees. As a result, a total of 14 interviews were arranged and successfully accomplished. In addition to depth interviews, top 15 most popular travel Web sites (www.ebizmba.com/articles/travel-websites) are examined for tourist and guide opinions toward Manisa’s religious sites and its surroundings.
The findings indicate that Manisa has highly important religious monuments belonging to three major religions, including three of the seven churches mentioned in the Apocalypse section of the Bible. Many suggestions have been made regarding possible changes in products, referring to religious monuments and sites in this study, and other marketing mix elements like possible ways of promoting the product.
The findings are based on a qualitative study, which limit their generalizability. Yet, the sample of interviewees is fairly large and utmost attention is given to the selection of them. In the future, more stakeholders can be involved in the data collection process. Also, the views of general public on the topic can be investigated through surveys to determine the details of religious tourism activities.
Preparations for selling souvenirs (like miniatures of religious monuments) and other religious and cultural goods near the sites of attraction can be made. In addition to selling souvenirs (e.g. miniatures, postcards), local food (i.e. Mesir paste, Mesir delight) and local drinks (i.e. Mesir tea, Sübye) can be offered at gift shops or stores to be opened next to religious monuments.
With the rising popularity of experiential and event marketing, tourists coming to Manisa to see religious monuments will be better off experiencing the atmosphere of these monuments. A specific team of experts from each related organization can be formed and an action plan be prepared to determine the steps to be taken regarding religious tourism. A wise planning and an effective implementation of religious tourism efforts require an intense coordination.
Policy makers and managers who want to promote religious tourism need to determine the tourism products and services which appeal to a diverse types of tourists visiting any religious destination. Religious tourism products and services in other destinations can be offered in combination with such activities as camping, hiking and sightseeing or such other types of tourism as social and group tourism and adventure. Standard marketing strategies may not work for religious tourism because spiritual travel will take different forms and have different meanings. Promotional activities are utilized to make potential customers aware of products, induce demand and provide incentives to purchase.