Facilitating self-development: how tour guides broker spiritual tourist experiences

Hannah Parsons, Susan Houge Mackenzie, Sebastian Filep

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Tourists are increasingly seeking personal development through spiritual, or mystical and divine, tourist experiences. Yet, spiritual tourism research is still largely in its infancy. This paper reports on a research study that aimed to investigate how spiritual tour guides manage and organise, or broker, spiritual tourists’ experiences. To address the aim, research was conducted with eleven spiritual tourism guides via semi-structured, in-depth, interviews. Thematic analysis of the interview data revealed that spiritual tourism guides broker the experiences of tourists through provision of physical access to sites, facilitating encounters within and beyond the travel group, and through facilitating understanding, empathy and self-development. Within the self-development theme, data were further categorised into five chronological brokering stages, ranging from pre-tour to post-tour. The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to developing spiritual tourism and tour guiding theory and practice. Suggestions for future research are also proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-152
Number of pages12
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • experience brokers
  • self-development
  • Spiritual tourist experiences
  • tour guiding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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