Competitive Strategies for the Development of Religious Tourism Case Study: Rezvanshahr City

Document Type : Research Article


Assistant Professor in Urban Planning, Technical and Vocational University, Ramsar, Iran


Extended Abstract
Iran has a special capability in the development of tourism services due to its rich environmental resources and the use of several thousand years of historical-cultural support, but due to the single-product economy based on oil revenues, it has prevented attention to this part of the country's economy. Meanwhile, the country, with its religious cities such as Mashhad, Qom, Shahr-e-Rey, etc., is one of the important centers for attracting religious tourism, which annually attracts countless religious tourists with the aim of visiting holy places.  Despite religious attractions, this type of tourism faces problems such as lack of planning. Therefore, comprehensive planning is needed to develop coordinated strategies for organizational development that are consistent with predictable and unpredictable future conditions and requirements and also it is essential in order to better manage tourism development, planning and providing appropriate strategies at all levels. Because experience has shown that wherever tourism develops randomly and without specific planning and strategy, it creates many environmental and social problems, and in the long-time, the problems of tourism outweigh the benefits. Also, unplanned tourism destinations cannot compete effectively with planned ones. Meanwhile, Rezvanshahr city with its holy places and religious monuments and buildings such as the White Mosque in terms of historical antiquity, Aq Mosque and Sultan Barzkuh in terms of up-country location, Gharib-Bandeh and Seyyed Sharaf al-Din tomb and having special and original religious ceremonies of Ta’zieh in the days of Tasu'a and Ashura have long been considered by religious tourists, especially tourists in the northern region of the country. Therefore, due to the existence of tourism attractions in this city, it has the potential to become one of the poles of religious tourism (at least at the regional level).
The present study is an applied research in terms of purpose and also descriptive-analytical one in aspects of method. The paradigm of the present research is quantitative and qualitative. The information and data has been collected in the form of field, library and documentary. In such a way that studies related to theoretical foundations have been done in a documentary way and a questionnaire tool has been used for data related to the findings. Data collection is based on the Delphi method. The statistical population of the study is a group of experts. As a sample, 20 people who have studied in the field of tourism and are familiar with the urban environment of Guilan province were selected as the statistical sample size. Then, the designed questionnaire was provided to the statistical sample of the research in order to assess its validity. Then, for reliability, it was evaluated by Cronbach's alpha test, which was equal to 0.832 and was confirmed. Meta-SWOT software was exerted to analyze the findings.
Results and discussion
All the inputs of this research are based on objectives such as introducing the religious attractions of Rezvanshahr city at the provincial, regional and national levels, increasing the presence of religious tourists, developing religious tourism, and economic prosperity of the region. in order to weight these goals, the opinions of a group of experts have been used and the results have been entered in Meta-SWOT software. Then, resources and capabilities were identified and evaluated, and according to them, the existing competitors in the region were obtained. And it was found that the five cities of Rasht, Shaft, Someh Sara, Amlash and Langarud are the main competitors in the region for the city of Rezvanshahr. Based on this information, a competitive map was drawn. After these steps, with the help of expert opinions, strategies for the development of religious tourism have been presented. After weighing and drawing a strategic plan, it was determined that the establishment of tourism camps and villages with tourism and recreational facilities on the outskirts of the religious place of Sultan Barzkuh, the establishment of tourism residential camps on the marginal lands of the Chafroud and Shafaroud rivers in front of religious places of Sheikh Kamel Naqshbandi and Agha Mohammad Shafie, providing low-fee banking facilities to interested investors in creating tourism spaces in the up-country religious areas (Sultan Barzkuh, Aq Mosque Rineh) and foothill areas (Sheikh Abolmaali), information through preparation broadcasting documentaries, maps and brochures, specialized magazines, publications and official sites for interested tourists in visiting religious and historical monuments, renovation of the old places of White and Aq Mosque are the most important factors as the attractions of religious tourism.
The results show that the resources and capabilities of Rezvanshahr city have different weights. As the fame of holding special religious ceremonies in shrines such as mourning and Ta’zieh ceremonies on the day of Ta’soa in Hazrat Seyyed Sharaf al-Din (Darsara) tomb, the existence of religious places in the beautiful landscapes of up-country and mountainous areas, foothills and plains , holding weekly markets in Rezvanshahr, Pareh-e-Sar and Chouka as the economic and cultural symbol of the region, special cultural attractions of different regions such as the customs and livelihood of the Gilakis, Talyshs and Turks, the existence of historical monuments and cultural sites such as the old mosques of White Mosque along the Dinachal River and the ancient cemetery of Mianroud and Vaskeh are the most important resources and capabilities of Rezvanshahr city for tourism development, respectively.


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