Tourism and religion are historically related through the institution of pilgrimage, from which later the phenomenon of religious tourism emerged. Whilst numerous studies examined how tourism impacts on destinations and how local residents view tourism, there is a paucity of studies looking specifically at how religious tourism and tourists affect local residents living in ?holy or sacred? destinations. This paper seeks to fill that gap in the literature by examining the perceptions of local residents of the socio-economic impacts of religious tourism on the island of Tinos, Greece. Data was collected through a questionnaire survey amongst local residents. The findings of the study revealed that the majority of residents welcome religious tourists to the island and perceive the socio-economic impacts as positive. Differences in perceptions were found on the basis of religiousness measured as frequency of church attendance and age of residents. Furthermore, the study found that whilst religious tourists are perceived as being different from ?ordinary? tourists and are seen as similar to the residents themselves, they are not necessarily preferred to non-religious tourists. Overall, there is strong evidence that economic considerations override other concerns by local residents. The paper suggests management and development strategies for developing other forms of tourism on the island, whilst maintaining its role as religious site.
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