Whether followed by spiritual pilgrims or those interested in walking, pilgrimage routes are unique experiences often recounted in real time over many social channels, or more traditionally at home. But what do these itineraries, pilgrimage routes or slow tourism routes represent for a territory? Attention and studies have often focused on the pilgrims and their reasons for making a journey. These are often traced back to spiritual, religious, cultural and tourist motives. The reality, however, is increasingly complex.
Some start from the desire to embark on a slow journey to discover places and people, others are driven by profound need to change one’s life. The concepts that perhaps are closest to the route, in my personal experience, are seeking and change. Not infrequently, those who leave find themselves in a moment of transition, of passage. We start out and perhaps we do not know why we are leaving, and on returning we find that something has changed in our lives.
But what happens to a territory that is crossed by a route?
What are the economic, social and cultural effects on the host communities?