Destination Branding: Perceived Sacredness and Spiritual Tourism in Indonesia Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
All industrial sectors such as tourism have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19. Struggling with the current crisis, spiritual tourism that is inseparable with physical experience, cultural, and religious practices should re-manage their destination branding activity through an intensive communication process. This research aimed to update the destination branding literature by applying a qualitative research method. It explored the concept of perceived sacredness as the basic element of spiritual tourism, which has an important role in retaining the existence of spiritual destination. Narratives from the visitors of spiritual destinations who were involved in the focus group discussions were interpreted by generating the meanings of the perspectives while using the context of recent communication and management research. The study identified eight criteria of perceived sacredness. Physical entities of spiritual destination included area, building, location, and tangible artefacts or objects which are dominantly considered to define sacredness in Indonesian spiritual tourism. Furthermore, this research elaborated on the perceived sacredness criteria with the current destination brand communication to deliver an adaptation strategy for spiritual tourism in the time of COVID-19.
Keywords: Destination Branding, Tourism Communication, Generating of Meaning, Spiritual Tourism
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