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Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of the Migrants and Itinerant People

VI World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism

Bangkok, Thailand, July 5 - 8, 2004

“Tourism at the service of bringing people together”

Final document


The Sixth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism was held at the Pastoral Training Centre, Bangkok, Thailand, from 5th to 8th July 2004. It was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People in collaboration with the Catholic Commission on Tourism of the Bishops’ Conference of Thailand. The theme of the Conference was “Tourism at the Service of Bringing People Together” in the context of the pastoral care of tourism.

His Eminence Stephen Fumio Cardinal Hamao, President of the Pontifical Council, opened the Congress and greeted the participants. He said that ‘encounter’ is at the heart of the Gospel proclamation. Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary of the Pontifical Council, followed with a keynote address on the pastoral care of tourism. After recalling the three recommendations of the last World Congress held at Ephesus, all of which have been carried out, he said that the specific task of the Church is to provide guidelines for the pastoral care of tourists and carry them out, and not to be involved in the practical organization of tourism.

The first full day of the Congress began with a concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Hamao as principal celebrant. In his homily, the Cardinal said: “Here we are in our Eucharistic encounter with the Lord at the beginning of these days during which we propose to make “encounter” the theme of our reflection and prayer … We bring the sentiments and concerns of our local apostolic work, the faces, and perhaps the names of the persons we have met, who are unique despite everything behind the label of tourists by which they are identified”.

During the Congress, subjects were covered by means of speeches, testimonies from the five continents and a round table on the specific issue of sex tourism.

Speeches (in chronological order):

- Dr. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation, made a summary of the general policy of his organization, developed in the course of these past years, stressing the importance of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which was already being seriously considered for application by many countries.

- Dr. Norberto Tonini, President of the International Bureau of Social Tourism, spoke about development in the context of social tourism.

- Rev. Prof. José da Silva Lima, of the Catholic University of Portugal, presented the theological and philosophical background of the theme “encounter”.

- Rev. Prof. Jean-Yves Baziou, of the University of Lille, France, spoke about the act of departing and the act of meeting others as two components of human life. These are two profoundly significant actions at the level of both human existence and Christian experience.

- Archbishop Ramón Benito de la Rosa y Carpio, of the Dominican Republic, stressed that “welcome”, in the context of evangelisation, is the primary service to offer in view of bringing people together.

- H.E. Msgr. Raul Nicolau Gonsalves, Archbishop emeritus of Goa, India, spoke about renewed tourism, wherein people may enrich their lives in encounters that promote the dignity of the human person, safeguard cultural heritages, and protect the earth’s beauty, thus fostering peace and harmony.

Testimonies of People Working in the Field (in chronological order) by:

- Mr Ranjan Solomon, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism (ECTWT);

- Brother Anthony Rogers, FSC, Executive Secretary of the Office for Human Development of the FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences);     

- Rev. Fr. Francis Rozario, OFM, Dominican Training Center, Goa, India;

- H.E. Msgr. Matthias Ssekamanya, Bishop of Lugazi, Uganda;

- Rev. Philippe Goupille, Delegate for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Mauritius;

- Rev. Msgr. Roberto Espenilla, Delegate for the Pastoral Care of Tourism and Pilgrimages, Philippines;

- H.E. Msgr. Rubén Oscar Frassia, Bishop of Avellaneda-Lanús, Vice-President of the Commission for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Argentina;

- Rev. Prof. Manuel Martínez Maciel, OP, Professor of Pastoral Care of Tourism, Universidad del Norte Santo Tomás de Aquino, Tucumán, Argentina;

- Rev. Louis Noshy Garas, National Director for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Egypt;

- H.E. Msgr. Lawrence Thienchai Samanchit, Bishop of Chantaburi, Promoter for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Thailand;

- Rev. Msgr. Carlo Mazza, National Director of the Office for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, Leisure and Sport, Italy;

- Rev. Olivier Morand, National Delegate for the Pastoral Care of Tourism, France;

- Rev. John A. Jamnicky, National Coordinator for Human Mobility Apostolates, U.S.A.;

- Rev. Msgr. Dr. Peter Prassel, Director, ‘Katholisches Auslandssekretariat’, Germany;

- Rev. Jacques Riga, Vice-President, Belgian Catholic Commission for Tourism;

- H.E. Msgr. Ioannis Spiteris, Archbishop of Corfou, Zante and Cefalonia, Greece.

Round Table on Sex Tourism

The dimensions of ‘sex tourism’ and initiatives to combat it were discussed by a round table panel with participants from Thailand (Sr. Michelle Lopez, RGS), Nepal (Mrs. Rupa Rai), Philippines (Fr. Shay Cullen, MSSC) and from the organization “End Child Prostitution and Trafficking – ECPAT” (Mr. Luc Ferran).

The Following Points were Given Special Attention During the Congress:

  •  As is known, tourism is both international and domestic. International tourist arrivals reached 694 million in 2003. The amount of money involved was 514 billion dollars. Arrivals are expected to be 900 million by 2010. Tourism exchanges in any case represent one of the largest categories of international trade and affects many countries and people, with 200 million employees. As Pope John Paul II said, tourism is a providential opportunity for meeting others worldwide. However, it has positive and negative aspects.
  • The World Tourism Organisation has already approved a Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which has already inspired the legislation of some countries and is still to be implemented in others.
  • The Congress participants listened to people who talked about the implementation of the Code of Ethics. In particular, the importance of sexual morality in connection with tourism was stressed in the round table on “The Dimensions of Sex Tourism” and initiatives to combat it were highlighted.
  • Pastoral ministry for tourism should not forget the importance of solidarity with the disadvantaged and the poor, giving special consideration to the consequences of poverty for their family lives. This solidarity should include dialogue and advocacy with policy makers in order to redress the negative impact of tourism in their lives.

Recommendations were made:

  • to move towards a more integral and holistic pastoral approach in dealing with the world of tourism; 
  • for Governments to make higher allocations for the moral and human formation of people engaged in Tourism, thus taking into account also the need for pastoral care;
  • to promote the awareness that tourism is a powerful instrument for bringing about justice and peace, and a true encounter of peoples;
  • in order to combat effectively the problem of sex tourism involving children, for travel agencies, airlines and hotels to inform their clients about child victims of prostitution and the criminal/legal issues concerning travelers who transgress related laws;
  • to provide for a commission, sub-commission or promoter, at the national, diocesan and even parish levels, to attend to the pastoral care of tourism and to network with other corresponding agencies and similar structures, both governmental and non-governmental;
  • to have better collaboration between Episcopal Conferences, so that priests and pastoral agents from the tourists’ places of origin can be properly welcomed by the local church and helped to minister to the appropriate group;
  • to celebrate Liturgy, especially the Eucharist, in the tourists’ native languages. Liturgical material can also be taken from existing websites;
  • to develop programs for the on-going spiritual formation of those involved in tourism, including hotel managers, tour guides, drivers and others who cater to the needs of tourists;
  • to celebrate the World Day of Tourism on September 27, in communion with the World Tourism Organisation. Nevertheless, where pastoral reasons dictate it, the Dioceses or the Episcopal Conference may transfer the celebration to a more convenient time. On this occasion the message of the Holy Father should be widely disseminated and reflected on, thus making people aware of the importance of the Pastoral Care of Tourism;
  • to create websites in dioceses and parishes where there are shrines and religious places of touristic vive interest, so as to give tourists relevant information on:
    • the religious identity of the local population;
    • the significance of local Christian monuments;
    • the historical and architectural value of their Christian patrimony;
    • ecumenical programs, etc.;
    • schedules and initiatives concerning liturgical celebrations to facilitate the participation of tourists, especially in terms of languages and symbols;
  • to institute courses on the phenomenon of tourism in Catholic and Pontifical Universities, as well as in Centers of formation for priests and religious. Official documents on the Pastoral Care of Tourism, in any case, must be known, translated and disseminated by the local Churches;
  • to prepare receiving and sending communities psychologically and liturgically, so that touristic encounters would enrich both;
  • to formulate a plan that would also aim to motivate members of receiving communities to volunteer in working in the tourism ministry, and tourists to volunteer in assisting the local community;
  • also for the local Christian community to accord appropriate pastoral care to the crew and the passengers of cruise ships;
  • for pastoral workers in the field of tourism not to wait for tourists to approach them but to go out to meet them;
  • in the pastoral care of tourism, to welcome tourists as an expression of authentic ministry, and not as a methodological strategy.

    Recommendations and Appeals Concerning Sex Tourism

  • During the Congress, it was stressed that tourism, which has now become a social and economic phenomenon of global dimensions, should contribute in bringing together nations and cultures; in enhancing the environment without deteriorating natural resources; in bringing to fulfillment and enriching the cultural and economic wealth of the local population; in fighting all forms of discrimination and exploitation or, worst still, of sexual violence in relation to women and minors. 

  • In this context, the Congress participants, inspired by the special love of Christ for the poor, consider the pastoral care of persons exploited by sex tourism as a high priority for the Church. Among these persons, the most vulnerable and in urgent need of proper care are certainly women, minors and children, but protection and special concern for children urge us to recommend for this very special group of exploited persons the following: 
  • that to children in this situation, compassion, legal protection and the restoration of their human dignity be given;
  • that the child must not be criminalized in cases where the contents of the Convention of the Rights of the Child have been violated, as in the case of sexual abuse. Even more, immigration authorities should give special attention to this reality;
  • that state authorities give priority and urgency to counteracting trafficking and the economic exploitation especially of children in sex tourism;
  • that State institutions intensify the implementation of laws that protect children from sexual exploitation in tourism and bring to justice the offenders through intensive, co-ordinated and consistent efforts at all levels of society, and in collaboration with international organizations;   
  • that dioceses and communities concerned give due pastoral care to children exploited for sexual purposes in the tourist industry. They should raise the awareness of society as to the seriousness of the situation and share information about this social evil and about ways to address it;
  • that dioceses and Catholic communities concerned establish structures for the pastoral care of exploited children as an important aspect of their mission of evangelization; and that they cooperate, in dialogue and action with local State authorities, to combat child exploitation with practical measures;
  • that dioceses and Catholic communities support existing means of apostolate, or establish new ones, that will care for the victims with compassion and love and provide legal assistance, therapy and reintegration into society and, where Christians are involved, into the faith community;
  • that national and regional conferences on the Pastoral Care of Tourism be held for competent authorities of social and apostolic action to implement what was here recommended.
Bangkok, 8th July 2004