Religious Heritage Tourism: The St. Paul Trail Project in Troas

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International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, vol.6, no.3, pp.68-80, 2018 (Scopus)


Today many tourists wish to explore different cultures, and thus, visit cultural, historical
and religious sites. The WTO estimates that each year between 300-330 million tourists
visit the most important religious sites in the world. Religious tourism is purported to
foster socio-economic development of host communities and promote awareness of the
historical, cultural, traditional, and artistic heritage values of destinations. Host
destinations increasingly create and offer cultural and religious routes as tourism
products, so that the staying duration of tourists can be extended and revenues can be
increased. One such destination, where religious / pilgrim tourism is growing in
popularity is Turkey. This paper is a preparatory work of a project called ‘The St. Paul
Trail in Troas’.
St. Paul was responsible for the spread of Jesus’ message and Christianity throughout
Asia Minor and Western Europe. St. Paul had 3 Missionary Journeys and one voyage to
Rome. In his 2nd Missionary Journey to Greece (AD 50-52 or 49-52) (Acts 15:36-
18:22) and his 3rd Missionary Journey, Paul travelled to Asia and Greece. In AD 53-58
(or 54-58) (Acts 18:23-21:15) he visited and passed through the Troas region (today’s
Canakkale), raising a young Eutychus from the dead and meeting with Luke in Assos.
The project has been accepted as a ‘Future is in Tourism Project’ which is supported by
the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), the Ministry of Culture and
Tourism of Turkey, and Anadolu Group, as an important stage of the ‘Troy Culture
Route’. The St. Paul Trail starts from the ancient port of Alexandria Troas (Dalyan),
where he landed on his 3rd Missionary Journey and follows his footsteps to the temple
of Apollo Smintheion, ending at the ancient port of Assos where he boarded a boat to go
to Lesbos. The trail will be about 60kms and in some places, it follows an original
Roman route.
The general objectives of the project are: the development of sustainable tourism in the
region; supporting local development, to ensure not only economic growth but also
socio-cultural development, and; to ensure the spread of tourism in all seasons. It is
expected that a successfully constructed and promoted trail will attract many tourists
from all over the world who wish to trace the history of their religion, visit Biblical
places, and places linked to Homer's epic tales (The Iliad and Odysseus).