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Title: Spiritual tourism on the island of Corfu: positive impacts of niche tourism versus the challenges of contested space

Authors: Heather Skinner; Pepé Soomers

Addresses: Institute of Place Management, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK ' Corfu, Greece

Abstract: This paper aims to explore and explain the transformational impact of spiritual tourism on places and their residents. A qualitative case study has been undertaken on the resort of Arillas on the Greek island of Corfu, gathering data from various stakeholder groups in person and via online and social media. Spiritual tourism in Arillas has positively addressed the decline in fortunes experienced by many other resorts on Corfu but has also led to distrust and hostility among various resident groups comprising local people, expatriates, and members of the spiritual community. Implications of this research show that in such contested spaces, well-being needs to be considered not only in financial terms, but also in terms of the impact on all resident stakeholder groups of the physical and societal changes brought about by developments in spiritual tourism, with the well-being needs of any one group not taking precedence over that of others.

Keywords: Arillas; Corfu; Greece; mass tourism; all-inclusive; contested spaces; stakeholders; sustainability; spiritual tourism; special interest tourism; alternative tourism.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTA.2019.098099

International Journal of Tourism Anthropology, 2019 Vol.7 No.1, pp.21 - 39

Received: 21 Dec 2017
Accepted: 08 Apr 2018

Published online: 22 Feb 2019 *

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