Tourists and ‘philosophers’ : Nature as a medium to consciousness and transcendence in spiritual tourism

Wang, Shaohua; Blasco, Dani; Hamzah, Amran; Verschuuren, B.


Nature is a vital context for transcendent experiences fostering the spiritual dimensions of humankind. Analysing data from protected areas in China, this paper investigates the ways in which spirituality permeates nature-based tourism. A thematic analysis was undertaken to interpret 27 semi-structured in-depth interviews with professionals and tourists. Findings enable the construction of a hierarchical framework of spiritual tourism achievement and highlight the need to create links between protected areas, tourists, and ‘mediums’. Nature is acknowledged as a means of overcoming spiritual emptiness in a secular nation where religions function in a limited way and traditional wisdom is undervalued. This study proposes a nature-based, philosophy-oriented tourism development model, which sheds light on theoretical and industrial domains alike.