Pilgrimage as a Field of Tourism Development: the Case of Kavala (Northern Greece) and Its Institutional and Cultural Challenges
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Developing pilgrimage tourism requires a set of unique attractors, as well as efficient destination governance structures that manage such attractors and balance stakeholder interests. This study analyses the development of pilgrimage tourism in Kavala (Northern Greece), a city with unique religious and cultural attractors connected to the Apostle Paul. By deploying a mix of literature review, on-site analysis and interviews with twelve local stakeholders, this paper first examines the general potential for pilgrimage tourism in the region and gives recommendations for its development. Subsequently, the study evaluates the progress of pilgrimage tourism development in Kavala after one year. The findings suggest that Kavala's religious and cultural attractors are optimal prerequisites for the development of pilgrimage tourism. However, our research also reveals and discusses cultural and institutional constraints within the stakeholder network that hinder the destination development. We conclude by outlining a path to developing pilgrimage tourism in Kavala which could serve as a blueprint for similar destinations. Overall, our findings illustrate a call for a critical revision to established destination management literature and highlight the need to consider the cultural ramifications of local stakeholder networks when discussing tourism development.
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