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Development of spiritual tourism circuits : the case of India
Global financial crisis has seen many giant industries crashing to the ground with an exception of tourism. With the economies collapsing around the world, a rise in spirituality and related matters has been observed. A combination of both has created a new product called as spiritual tourism. This product is inclusive unlike religious tourism and pilgrimage. Many countries offering religious tourism and pilgrimage have struggled to reshape their products into multi-faith based tourism. India as a country has the ability to redesign its tourism and present the image of a multi-faith or spiritual tourism destination. A religion based tourism circuit is being introduced by the Indian Government that is assessed as a narrow and exclusive approach in this study. Spiritual tourism circuits are being developed by the Ministry of Tourism India in its 12th five year plan (2013-17), not only for sustainable development and growth of tourism as a whole, but also to promote India as a spiritual tourist destination. Spiritual tourism is a niche special interest tourism segment. This study emphasizes upon the need to capitalize on the many religious traditions being practiced in the country and presenting a comprehensive spiritual tourism package for domestic and foreign travelers. It further recommends public-private partnerships (PPP) between the key stakeholders to explore the full potential which is essential for the competitive advantage and sustainability of the packaged spiritual tourism circuits, but also to promote and practice religious secularism, integration and peace.