Environmental Impacts of Mass Religious Tourism: From Residents' Perspectives
This study aims to examine residents' perceptions of the environmental impact of mass religious tourism in Mashhad, Iran. Although numerous studies have examined residents' perceptions regarding the impact of mass religious tourism, there is a paucity of research specifically assessing the spatial pattern of the environmental impact of religious tourism with a focus on areas surrounding the shrine. The city of Mashhad is one of the most highly revered religious sites for the Shiite sect of Islam. Three hundred questionnaires were distributed to those living around the holy shrine, and an analysis of variance was performed to compare the mean scores of the environmental dimensions against educational level, income level, and residency length. A geostatistical technique using geographic information system software was applied to map spatial variations in environmental impact, indicating that although religious tourism has resulted in environmental improvement, it is limited to those areas immediately surrounding the shrine, and this improvement does not extend to the whole city. Based on statistical results, residents' perceptions generally were negative in terms of the environmental impact of religious tourism. Moreover, respondents' perceptions appeared to be colored by their income and the length of their residency.
Keywords: ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT; GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (GIS); MASHHAD; RELIGIOUS SITE; RESIDENTS' PERCEPTIONS
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2017
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