Pilgrims going on a pilgrimage tour or tourists seeking healing and relaxation at thermal springs and spas are special categories of travelers, involving a certain level of spirituality, interest in the cultural ambience and, sometimes, special needs. They constitute, thus, special clientele and need quite a good support on the information and services’ level. The project CULTOUR+ (2015-1-ES01-KA203-016142) is a European Erasmus+ project aiming at enhancing the professional capacities and at upgrading the tourist services regarding pilgrims’ routes and thermal springs in several European countries, namely Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria and Poland. It follows an innovative practice by bridging the gap between entrepreneurship and cultural tourism management, VET learning and the implementation of information technologies. The paper aims at presenting the philosophy and preliminary phases of the project at an international audience. The main issues addressed are: researching cultural routes management, investigating and understanding the needs of these special categories of tourists, pinpointing their places of interest, monitoring the infrastructure (notably the accommodation facilities) and training young entrepreneurs into improving and diversifying the services offered. The final aim is to create an instrument for presenting a cultural map for religious and thermal tourism in a large part of Europe as well as for training the future generations of tourism specialists in expanding their calibre of services and in anticipating the needs of the future generations of tourists.
Written by Afroditi Kamara, Martin Gómez-Ullate, Luis Ochoa-Siguencia, Veronika Joukes, Altheo Valentini
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