Darwin could become Australia’s Mecca for spiritual tourism, according to a Charles Darwin University academic.
Charles Darwin University (CDU) Business Lecturer, Farooq Haq is exploring the marketing implications for spiritual tourism in his PhD research.
Mr Haq said that with the correct marketing and positioning, Darwin could be promoted and marketed as a spiritual hub.
“Darwin possesses a very strong Indigenous presence where the culture is still very much in practice,” he said.
“Darwinites are very open, friendly and inclusive people for the most part, which makes it a very appealing proposition at first glance.
“What we already have in existence is a cultural extravaganza accommodating a variety of beliefs all situated within a metropolitan setting on Asia’s doorstep.”
As a part of his research Mr Haq said he was proposing to explore whether it might be beneficial to build upon the Indigenous local traditional tourism currently being promoted in the Territory by highlighting its spiritual tourism elements in order to teach people about the spirituality of the region, which included a number of different groups.
Mr Haq said that although spiritual tourism might be a new term, it had existed as an ancient practice of people travelling extensively for their spiritual development.
“A spiritual tourist is a person who travels as a tourist for spiritual growth or development, without overt religious compulsions. They can be religious or non-religious but they should be travelling with a divine purpose in mind.”
Mr Haq explained that spiritual tourism could also represent enormous opportunities for low socio economic countries to develop a viable and profitable tourism offering.
He also commented on the role embassies could play as effective “travel agents” for spiritual tourism.
“Embassies in spiritual destinations are best placed to play an integral role in ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience and also in the design of spiritual tourism products.”
Mr Haq’s research has assessed the market and marketing of spiritual tourism, examined the characteristics of spiritual tourists in Australia and Pakistan, and proposed effective marketing strategies for spiritual tourism.