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Self-expression and play: can religious tourism be hedonistic?

Lochrie, Sean; Baxter, Ian W. F.; Collinson, Elaine; Curran, Ross; Gannon, Martin Joseph; Taheri, Babak; Thompson, Jamie; Yalinay, Ozge


Sean Lochrie

Ian W. F. Baxter

Elaine Collinson

Ross Curran

Martin Joseph Gannon

Babak Taheri

Ozge Yalinay


Using data collected from 538 Iranian tourists undertaking the religious pilgrimage of Umrah (i.e., voluntary travel to the holy city of Mecca at any time throughout the year), this study investigates the concept of play and its relationship with self-expression and hedonism in an Islamic tourism context. By testing a theoretically derived structural model, the findings suggest that self-expression strongly influences tourists' sense of play. Here, play is realised when tourists feel that they can express themselves freely and augment their self-image while travelling, irrespective of the religious context. Nonetheless, the pilgrimage environment is characterised by religious congregation – with tourists engaging in communal experiences that reflect themselves and their faith. Therefore, the ideal experience, where tourists feel a sense of escapism from the pressures of everyday life, is a product of their ability to project, develop, and ratify their self-concept. Finally, the study suggests that pilgrimage managers and marketers should focus on the importance of play, enabling their destinations to heighten the intensity of the 'enjoyable' elements of religious travel (e.g., group camaraderie, escapism and positive emotional reactions) alongside their inherent religious benefits.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 6, 2018
Online Publication Date Nov 19, 2018
Publication Date Jan 2, 2019
Deposit Date Jan 17, 2019
Publicly Available Date May 20, 2020
Journal Tourism Recreation Research
Print ISSN 0250-8281
Electronic ISSN 2320-0308
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 1
Pages 2-16
Keywords play, self-expression, hedonism, pilgrimage, religious tourism
Public URL
Contract Date Jan 18, 2019


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