The USC study on the socio-economic impact of the Camino de Santiago ruled out possible saturation, despite the fact that it detected high densities of occasional occupation at specific stages and on summer days. This is one of the conclusions of the study, the first part of which was presented a few weeks ago, and which completes the knowledge and impact that the pilgrim of the French Way has on the territory and its inhabitants.
In this sense, this second part of the study, entitled Profiles, Dynamics and Perception of Pilgrims, notes that the real capacity for welcoming pilgrims is much higher than the number of pilgrims currently on the pilgrimage route to Santiago. A possible saturation is thus ruled out, despite the fact that there are high stocking densities concentrated in specific stages and on summer days.
The study was carried out by the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) on the initiative of the Xunta de Galicia with the aim of learning about the reality of the pilgrimage in order to facilitate decision-making by both public administrations and private entities and to contribute to the generation of knowledge that can be used by researchers and disseminators.
The physical load capacity, the actual load capacity and the effective load capacity were analysed, taking into account aspects such as the hours of daylight, the minimum distance between groups and possible meteorological, social and environmental conditions. Among his conclusions, he especially emphasizes that the perception of a high affluence is a subjective reality for a large number of pilgrims and it is not reflected that it is an element that changes his positive evaluation of the experience. In fact, there is a very high level of satisfaction: for 64% of the pilgrims, the experience was better or much better than expected and only 5.8% said it was less than expected. This evaluation leads 98.6% of pilgrims to recommend the Way of St. James. In addition, up to 53% confess that they will certainly repeat the experience by following another of the itineraries and 31% expect to return on the same pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. In addition, the analysis states that n 75% of Galicians say they like the presence of walkers and the vast majority do not consider that the volume is excessive at any time of the year.
83% will return as tourists
The study also focuses on analyzing the profiles of the pilgrims. In this sense, we can see that the Camino de Santiago stands out for its diversity. Pilgrims do not recognize themselves as tourists, but they can become so in the future, as up to 83% say they will return. Specifically, there are two different groups, depending on whether they go on pilgrimage alone or in groups.
In the first, there are three categories: expert (national, repeat, short and long distance, with ages between 40 and 50 years, who sees himself as a pilgrim and with critical awareness), traditional (foreigner, does not repeat, long distance, with ages between 20 and 40 years and more than 60 and pilgrim) and traveller (foreigner, does not repeat, long distance, young and sees himself as a traveller).
As for group pilgrims, the following are distinguished: modern (national, do not repeat, short route, which is seen as a pilgrim, with a significant female weight and very satisfied with the experience), recreational (multinational, short and medium route, with different profiles of leisure and critical awareness) and young (national, not repeated, short route and seen as a traveler).
Commitment to responsible tourism
“They are data that speak of a reality of which Galicia is the protagonist and which makes it possible for the Galicians”, said Nava Castro, who pointed out the will of the Galician Government to continue working to improve and lead the pilgrimage, which has become an international reference in its management and promotion. The study of the socio-economic impact of the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela, which, as the director pointed out, is of great importance in order to continue diversifying the flow of pilgrims, is part of this line of work. “Today we receive more pilgrims, by more routes and for more months than 15 years ago,” he explained. In this regard, he indicated that, as part of the regional strategy, the French Way shares more and more prominence with the rest of the official routes and that months such as July and August gave way to an influx in favour of others, a line in which it encouraged perseverance.