UWL’s Holy Grail tourism expert presents paper to international conference in Girona
UWL is playing a major part in the research and development of a new pan-European Holy Grail tourist route. Dr Paul Fidgeon from the London School of Hospitality and Tourism travelled to the 7th International Conference on Spirituality, Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage at the University of Girona in Spain to share the results of his work and the challenges and opportunities of developing such a route.
The EU-sponsored research project will seek not only to develop a route but also identify a number of key emblematic places and attractions based on traditions, myths and legends associated with the Holy Grail. The project aims to use the route as a way of developing and improving regional tourism throughout Europe. Central to this is the creation of a new tourism product and associated opportunities for tourism businesses, but also increasing the attractiveness and awareness of different regions. The consortium developing the route, which spans six different countries, is hoping that culture and spirituality might not only capture the public’s imagination, but also motivate them to travel to different Holy Grail locations.
In Christian tradition, the Holy Grail was the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. This was subsequently used to collect Jesus' blood during his crucifixion. It was said to have the power to heal all wounds.
Dr Fidgeon’s research has shown the different traditions linking the Grail to sites in the UK – from biblical references, association with the Knights Templar and Arthurian legend to more modern popular cultural references including Monty Python and the Da Vinci Code. Dr Fidgeon said, ‘This important research is a coup for the London School of Hospitality and Tourism. We are showing how new tourists can be attracted to existing sites using the Grail as a unifying narrative. The route will not only lead to a boost for local economies, but will also serve to unite different European cultures and the tourism industry behind the Grail tradition.’
The next step in the project will see Dr Fidgeon arranging a number of focus groups with Grail communities and the tourism industry across the UK. These aim to increase awareness of the project and encourage local stakeholders to spot its tourist potential. Results from this research and the full route will unveiled at a conference in Spain in November 2015 where Dr Fidgeon will be a keynote speaker.