Nowadays, destinations need to consider the need for extending their product portfolio with new offers for minor segments and niches, many of which experience interesting growth rates and high loyalty rates. This strategy is also called long tail strategy, so long as it focuses on a long group of small dimensioned market niches. Many destinations have seen how small segments such as wellness, adventure or wine tourism have brought important flows of visitors, including the low seasons.

One of these niche markets with a sustained growth in many outbound markets is the so called Spiritual Tourism. There is not yet an official definition for Spiritual tourism and its market characterization, but it could be defined as activities that lead us to the knowledge of ourselves and our well-being. For instance, the Mexican Tourism Board defines Spiritual Tourism as holidays motivated by issues related to religion, like pilgrimages or journeys with a clear orientation associated to an expression of faith.

This definition would probably not be valid for the European market. I would consider spiritual tourism something between religion and wellness, including even some traces of sport and creative tourism. This concept is defined in Mexico as “Reflection Tourism”, encompassing all types of activities oriented to well-doing while offering inner peace, mysticism and quietness in a relaxed environment.

The lack of consensus on this issue makes it difficult to estimate the niche market dimension, for the only reference continues to be religious tourism, which is estimated to account for more than 300 million of pilgrims who travel annually to holy places or on pilgrimage routes.

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Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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