How do you feel about using ancient places of worship, to drive tourism economies?

For here, I wanted to open up a discussion: how do you feel about using ancient places of worship, to drive tourism economies? Disrespectful? Appropriate? Neutral? Something else?

I, personally, see nothing wrong with it, unless we somehow know that the original worshippers wouldn't approve. Mecca? Totally cool, because they're already into pilgrimage and religious tourism, so long as nonbelievers respect a few sacred spaces. Torn up Egyptian grave sites? Questionable, I'm pretty sure they'd be pissed.

I also wrote up a short article about an example, "Crashing Into the Notre Dame Cathedral, How Electrified Worship Drives Tourism Economies," available for free at Lemme know what you think!

--- Ashkuff | | How to venture out of “armchair” scholarship and into action? One anthropologist tackles business, occultism and violence! He gets spooked and roughed up a lot.

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I'm with you. If there is an existing body of worshippers and they object, their feelings should be taken into account. Otherwise, no big deal. 

Two points to ponder.

1. Some ancient and not-so-ancient places of worship actively encourage tourism. Stories like The Canterbury Tales are myriad wherever pilgrimage remains an occasion for fun as well as worship, e.g., in most of the Far East. 

2. What counts as  "an existing body of worshippers" may need a little more thought. Suppose, for example, that a group of modern Wiccans asserted that Stonehenge is absolutely sacred and that tourist visits to the site should stop forthwith? How far do their opinions count?

Leave it to John (and a few of the others on this site) to answer in a concise and accurate manner.

-but in the end I think you answered your own question Ash- at least as far as I'm concerned.

as long as the "original worshipers" approve, or fail to worries

However, most often the "original worshipers" would be long dead and gone- so it falls to the cultural or Political group that now controls the heritage, whether they be lineage based, (direct descendants of the original peoples), or peoples that have the same ethnicity, and/or Political power or authority over the cultural heritage.

Either way it a great way to increase the economy of a Nation/peoples and also get the "tourist/participant observer" to view other cultures with less ethnocentrism perhaps....


PS Thanks for the post and keep em comming

One thing I noticed on the site were comments in which self-identified pagans were describing worship as requiring quiet for contemplation and prayer, a situation in which tourists would be disruptive. I wonder how many of them have experienced festivals dedicated to local divinities or saints in traditional or originally pagan, now syncretized, forms. Latin America, India, the Far East...they are all over the place. I'm thinking of the ones where the crowds and noise level easily surpass run-of-the-mill rave clubs. Think Mardi Gras gone mad. Just asking.

In order to actually open things to tourism it probably makes sense to limit tourist access to specific days/times.

I similar problem came up in the Thailand after Jim Thompson created the "Jim Thompson House". It was never actually intended to be open to the public but because.......

People would just wander on to his property to see the marvel.

He ended up registering it as a Museum and allowing entry only several days of the week between certain hours.


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