Ecotourism and Spirituality: An exploratory study

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Spirituality has been addressed and studied upon in the tourism field mainly in relation to religiosity and religious tourism. Contesting the idea that spiritual experiences and thus fulfillment can only be achieved within this context, this paper explores the interrelation of ecotourism and spirituality, focusing on the relationships drawn by ecotourists themselves. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the spiritual dimension of ecotourism and the ways in which ecotourists of different ages perceive, frame and embody spirituality in their vacations. To provide answers, literature analysis and interviews with ecotourists of Greek origin were performed. Through the comparative analysis of the typologies of ecotourists and spiritual tourists, various elements emerged that highlighted the differentiations but also the common parts between those two categorizations, corroborating the notion that ecotourism engulfs also a spiritual dimension. Through the empirical research, views on spirituality were extracted, indicating it to be a quest towards self-awareness, nonetheless embodied and interpreted in different ways based on the age group. The narrations of spiritual travel experiences allowed also for a deeper understanding of the embodiment of spirituality in ecotourism. With these insights, this study has highlighted the spiritual dimension of ecotourism, as interpreted and performed by ecotourists themselves.
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