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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 96 (Suppl.), December 2004

 

BRINGING PEOPLES TOGETHER 

FOR A JUST PEACE:

CHALLENGES TO TOURISM IN THE 21st CENTURY

 

 

Bro. Anthony ROGERS, FSC

Executive Secretary of the Office for

Human Development of the FABC, Malaysia

Introduction

Tourism at the service of bringing people together for peace is one of the greatest challenges for the people of Asia today. In order to do this we need to begin a process of dialogue that will bring people from all over the world to Asia – to build a new solidarity for the common good. We need to clarify for ourselves the various aspects of tourism in Asia today and how it can be at the service of bringing people together so that we can build together a world based on peace. How can Tourism in Asia be at the Service of Bringing People Together? In order to answer this question, it is imperative that we take a look at the various dimensions of this complex and diverse phenomenon. There is a growing awareness within the Churches in Asia that we need a more human kind of tourism. It is imperative that we rethink and restructure tourism in a new and more human way. It is not the way of just pointing out the negatives and positives or identifying the potentials and threats. We need a new creativity and a new paradigm based on the fundamental perspectives of the Good News of Jesus Christ as understood in the context of Asia. We cannot take for granted that it is the market forces that determine the future of millions of people all over Asia and in the other continents. The guiding norms and principle can no longer be just the maximisation of profits or exaggerated materialism, self-satisfaction and hedonism. A new evangelisation of the movement of people to be present to one another and to allow them to enter into a true encounter of cultures and traditions calls for a new and radical response of all the People of God all over the world and in dialogue with people of all faiths and traditions.

We need to develop the meaning of a joint responsibility with all the peoples of Asia so that we can move towards more holistic and integral understanding of the world of tourism. It is not just the movements of people from the financially rich world and the economically poor countries in Asia but encounters that will lay the foundations for a just peace. Tourism is an opportunity to enter into the world of one another to welcome our guests with respect and the host to have a greater participation in working for the common good.

The Challenges of a Dehumanising Globalisation

Tourism today is not just the emergence of a new "borderless world". It is also the gradual integration of the global market, trade and capital into the local levels. It is also the subtle adoption of a way of thinking and acting that makes people not just producers of goods and services and consumers but also participants in a particular way of life and its underlying values of a market driven economy. The impact is not just on the economic level but the insertion of cultural and moral norms that affect life style and consumption patterns, the education system, forms of recreation and entertainment as well as sexual and moral ethics. To put it bluntly, globalisation is part of the process that is rapidly making us an integral part of the global trading system. It is for this reason that it has made its way into the GATS negotiations and possibly put the tourism sector under a greater influence of big business and the multinationals. Multinationals and big business have seen its profit yielding potentials and want to control the levers of the tourism sector. The economics of tourism is at the root of many of the issues that hurt multitudes of people, especially the vulnerable in the tourism sector. Trade liberalisation and the onslaught of information technology that makes the movement of capital and information, labour and goods truly make the world one. 

Challenges of Growing Poverty and Inequalities

The world has never been richer in terms of knowledge, technology, developments in health, education and of course in terms of the ability to travel and to move from one part of the world to another. The rich have grown numerically and are more productive. But as a proportion of the world’s population the rich, defined as those living in the industrialised and developed countries of North America, Western Europe and Japan, make up a fairly small minority. It is estimated that they make up roughly around a billion of the world’s six billion people. Of the other 5 billion, 2.8 billion live on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. Of those 1.2 billion live on less than $1 a day. More than 40 per cent of those 1.2 billion are in South Asia – that is, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; 23 percent are in East Asia, which includes China.

At the same time what is frightening is that in spite of all the progress and development the gap between the richest and the poorest has not narrowed. According to a study initiated by the World Bank it was pointed out that in 1870 the world’s richest industrialised countries, Britain and the United States, had an income per head roughly 9 times that of the poorest country. In 1990 America’s income per head was more than 45 times the income per head of Chad or Ethiopia. In 1870 the world’s seventeen richest countries had an average income per head of 2.4 times that of all the other countries; in 1990 the top seventeen countries were 4.5 times as rich as the rest. In 2000 the average income in the world’s 20 richest countries is 37 times the average in the poorest 20 countries. The gap has doubled in the past forty years.

Available data shows that although globalisation has accelerated the creation of wealth, it benefits the wealthy. Rich countries are becoming richer while poorer countries are becoming poorer. In 1965, the poorest 20% of people in the world had a 2.3% share of the global income and the richest 20% had a 70% share. In 1995, the poorest 20% shared just a 1.4-% of global income while the share of the 20% richest had increased to 85%. Furthermore, just 385 billionaires have a combined income equivalent to that of 2.5 billion people and in the last 10 years the number of hungry people has increased from 500 to 840 million. Tourism today has to be placed in the context of massive poverty in the Third World. Tourism has one face in the world of the poor and another in the world of the rich.

Understanding the Faces of Tourism in the context of Globalisation

Tourism is a "sunrise" industry worldwide. It provided employment for about 212 million people in 1995, and the figure is expected to increase to 338 million in the next ten years. The gross revenue of the tourism sector has reached US$ 3.4 trillion and is expected to more than double by the year 2005, to US$ 7.2 trillion. The share of the Asia-Pacific region is US$ 804 billion. The region is only third in ranking behind Western Europe at US$ 1.5 trillion and North America at US$ 956 billion. In the world today one out of every 9 persons is in tourism and that amounts to 278 million in 1996. Seventeen percent of world tourism comes to East Asia and the Pacific. Tourism grows 23% faster than the world economy. Between 1995-1997, travel and tourism grew 50 percent faster than world employment, and 60% of all international air travel was related to tourism.

We note some of the characteristics and issues related to tourism in Asia today:

1. In evaluating the role and impact of the tourism industry we need to take into account both the level of socio-economic development and the importance of tourism as a "Key-Player" in the national development plans. If tourism is a priority the governments should make higher allocations for tourism development compared to other sectors. Very often it is an option between tourism related infrastructure development and promotion, and the production of basic goods provision for education and health and development of the agricultural sector etc. In some countries in Asia, Governments give priority to the building of golf courses for the tourists and investors by taking away rice fields from the farming communities. We cannot therefore look at the development of the tourism industry in the Third World without taking a look at the choices that need to be made and the consequences on the people.

2. The rapid growth of the tourism industry in Asia is related to what we term the "Fast-Track Growth Oriented Development". The 1997 financial crisis in Asia has shown very clearly the fragile nature of our economies and especially the tourism industry. The SARS scare in SouthEast and East Asia kept away thousands of tourists from their destinations and the earnings of people have dropped drastically. Since 9/11 a series of violence in Bali, Indonesia and in Southern Thailand has also dramatically affected both the tourism industry as well as the rise of unemployment and its direct impact on the poor and marginalised. All these have to a large extent had serious consequences for the tourism industry and the workers. It is clear that mass tourism as the means to boost the economy and alleviate the poverty of the people is being questioned and challenged.

3. The technological advancements in communications and transport, and the incredible improvements in information technology and use of the mass media have made tourism the fastest growing industry today. What people see on the television screen, they want to experience in reality. They don't mind working longer hours to be given the opportunity to enter into another cultural world. They don't mind getting into debt ("Fly First, Pay Later" schemes) to enjoy for the moment. There is the danger that it can become a status symbol or self-gratification due to the highly competitive advertising industry.

4. Tourism, understood in its full context, is an opportunity for the emergence of one humanity, able to fully experience the gifts of God given to the whole of humanity. But current experiences show that that much is to be desired when little respect is paid to the cultural heritage of the people and the basic needs of the people are neglected. Development has to respect the rights of other persons and communities. Tourism can be an opportunity to enter into the world of the "others" but not trampling on their "flower gardens" The opening of territories owned and occupied by indigenous peoples, farmers, fishing communities have resulted in the forced eviction of communities and the loss of cultural identities. Burial grounds and sacred sites have been converted into luxury resorts and golf courses. Cultures are commercialised for entertainment and increasing the profits for the few, all in the name of development.

5. The instant nature of commercialised tourism moves people from one part of the world or a continent to another, but it is often only a superficial encounter. It is only with the mere externals of a world of nature and culture. There is little opportunity to troly experience the day to day lives of the people. Overly commercialised tourism is often in a purely artificial environment that lacks a certain sensitivity to the inner pains and realities of peoples. Because they are not able to get close enough to them, they are also not closer to a greater understanding of their lives and aspirations. Tourism sometimes does not reveal the real faces of our peoples and the cries of anguish and pains. Governments and business often build walls and a facade to give the impression that things are well in our countries and that poverty and inequalities can be eradicated by the incomes from the tourism industry. They sometimes fail to curb the various forms of corruption and illegal activities that do not do justice to the people and their demands for basic human dignity and rights. The gradual commodification of "culture and nature", denies the deeper aspects of ones life and sharing the more humanising aspects of the culture from which one comes from. Examples can be cited in various countries, where family life has disintegrated; marriages are broken and threatened by the promotion of sex tourism. The influence on youth and high school students is devastating. Lured by opportunities to earn easy money within a few late evening hours, they lost interest in studies, games and other usual pastimes. They are immersed in the life of restaurants, shacks, beach-umbrella renting, vehicle hiring and as masseurs, quite a number in drug peddling, prostitute soliciting including children, and finally falling into the web of drug-taking and prostitution. HIV carriers and people with full-blown AIDS have been found and are increasing at an alarming rate.

6. We are aware that the tourism industry is a key economic institution in every single part of the world and is proposed as the panacea for underdevelopment of the Third World today. We cannot deny the role of the mass media and the communication networks in bringing new information to prospective tourists looking for an escape from the drudgery of modern day life in a highly competitive and consumerist society. Highly marketed mass tourism entails higher financial costs for the traveller and becomes an exclusive privilege of the few in the developed and developing countries.

7. It is very debatable if the type of tourism being promoted in Asia today is for the integral development of the nation and people. Economic growth does not necessarily mean total human development, the creation of equitable structures and justice. The evils of drug abuse and prostitution cannot be the price one has to pay for economic growth and development.

Thus we have attempted to point out that tourism cannot be driven by only the market forces and solely motivated by profit. We need to look for alternatives that will bring new dimensions to humanity and to the world of nature.

Starting Afresh with a New Vision for the 21st Century

We as Church are therefore being challenged to Start Afresh in the beginning of the new millennium. Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II for the 24th World Day of Tourism (27th September 2003) said, “I warmly hope that tourist activity will be an effective means of alleviating poverty, of fostering the personal and social growth of individuals and peoples, and of the consolidation of participating and co-operation among nations, cultures and religions.” It is clear that we need both a new vision and pastoral orientations in the area of tourism. Our vision is born out of the awareness of the situations of grief and sorrow in the world of today. These move the People of God to recognise the need to respond with our joy and create situations of hope. We have been challenged to offer radical alternatives to society today founded on our faith as a People of God and in Jesus Christ. We cannot be satisfied with superficial responses to social problems but must work for the building of the Kingdom of God in a holistic way through our work and our lives as Church.

To bring more humane conditions to life and to act justly and with compassion begins with a clear option for new values of community and solidarity. A deeper understanding of a holistic vision makes us believe that the promotion of a sustainable and humane tourism is an integral mission of the Church for a fuller humanity in harmony with nature and the universe. This is a process of coming to certain clarity of the nature of contributions to the transformation of the existing tourism industry. This can only be initiated with the formulation and implementation of programmes and activities that affect peoples' lives today. New possibilities are only possible with a new heart and new mind according to the ways of Jesus in our time and situations.

We therefore in this paper will look at the world of tourism, listen to what the Lord is teaching us through the "signs of the times" and the official teachings of the Church, so that we will be able to respond with love.

Our Hope in the Flower Gardens of Asia – The Beauty and Fragrance of Cultures and Religious Traditions

This approach is not new. Looking back into our past assures us that Asia, being the biggest land mass in the world, has been over the centuries a continent where people have had the opportunity to move more and more both over the land and sea. From early times, there has been movement to and from West Asia to South Asia and South East Asia, Central Asia and to East Asia and in all directions. There is obvious evidence that Asia is not a watertight compartment. There has been over our long history a gradual assimilation of one another’s ways of life and thinking and a cultural intermingling that has brought such benefits in the past. We realise that learning from one another and to benefit from the diversity of both the products of the land and the inherent talents of the people have brought innumerable benefits to all of us in Asia. Although we differ from country to country and from one civilisation to another, deep within each one of us is the Asian psyche that iituit that we were created different so that we could complement one another in being at the service of life and creation. Our sense of the sacred and searching for the divine has resulted in producing layers of cultural exchanges and experiences that have become the foundations of our nations.

The Forging of a New Direction for the Whole of Humanity

It is with this confidence in our history as nations and peoples with rich cultural and religious heritages and endowed with nature and environment that we see the importance of entering into dialogue with all peoples and with the Universal Church. Dialogue is not about talking and listening alone but about entering into each other’s worlds and moving towards a common perspective because we are truly committed to global solidarity. It is a firm and perservering commitment to the common good, for the good of each human person and the whole human family. It is this commitment to solidarity that confirms our belief that tourism can genuinely be at the service of the whole of humanity. The biggest industry linked to our natural desire to enter the world and other cultures, traditions and faiths is indeed the new megapolis of tourism. It is this confidence that will have to serve as the foundations for the development of more relevant and more creative pastoral initiatives in the area of tourism at the beginning of the 21st century that calls for a radically new approach.

This new challenge is born out of our desire for a global just peace. There can be a clear shift if tourism is not just seen as an economic activity but as a whole new programme to bring people together to work for peace. We need to promote this new consciousness and awareness of tourism as the new force for a just peace. This is our response to the growing insecurities attached to fears of growing terrorism and the dangers of conflicts and violence in many parts of the world. Tourism can indeed become a force and a vehicle for bringing people together for peace. This can begin with making the focus of tourism the opportunity for the exchange of cultures. This can take a new direction with a greater commitment to a fuller and deeper understanding of the complexity of modern day tourism in the context of globalisation. We need to examine the web of intricate interconnectedness of all aspects of life today. Tourism has always been associated with the activity of the movement of people, but today it has become one of the most organised industries in society  that involves huge sums of money and the utilisation of human and natural resources. Its impetus for rapid and extensive expansion is dramatically affecting the lives of people in Asia. There is the desire for people to reach out to other persons and cultures and at the same time find opportunities for rest and recreation. This movement of people and the bringing of people together is also the biggest "Dollar-earners" and the engine of the industry that drives nations to new levels of economic growth and with the promise that it is also the path to taking them out of situations of poverty and dehumanisation.

Our Path as Church in Dialogue with the World of Tourism in the 21st Century

The reason for the greater involvement of both the Universal Church and the Church in Asia has to be anchored on our belief that we are called anew to be at the service of the Gospel of Life in the context of Asia. It is our mission of evangelisation in Asia to be leaven, salt and light in the societies where we live and the world. It is this vision that serves to make our process of reviewing our lives and attempting to find new ways of responding with love in all our endeavours as Church. For us, the all-powerful forces at work within the Asian realities are what move us as Church to look for new and creative responses. In the living heritage of cultures and religious traditions of Asia we discern values and their expressions in symbols, stories and art forms that embody a vision of life, even though we are critically aware of the distortions that have entered into these traditions. In these cultural and religious traditions we also discover the responses to life given by past generations of Asian peoples, which in turn are sources for our contemporary response. We Asians are searching not simply for a meaning of life but for life itself. We are striving and struggling for life because it is a task and a challenge. But life is a gift too, a mystery, because our efforts to achieve it are far too short of the ultimate value of life. We speak of life as a becoming a growing into, a journeying to life and to the source of life.

Steps to a Human Tourism for Just Peace

In the rich diversity of ancient Asian cultures and faiths is a vision of unity in diversity, a communion of life among diverse peoples. In this context we seek to become persons of dialogue. Ours is a vision of holistic life, life that is achieved and entrusted to every person and every community of persons, regardless of gender, creed, culture, class or colour. It is the fruit of integral development, the authentic development of the whole person and of every person. We envision a life with integrity and dignity, a life of compassion for the multitudes, especially for the poor and needy. It is a life of solidarity with every form of life and of sensitive care for all the earth. It is thus a life that unites us Asians among ourselves and with the whole of creation into one community life. For us life is to live with integrity and dignity in peace and justice, in freedom and participation, in mutuality and complementarity. It is to live in simplicity and friendship.

It is interesting to note what the Asian Bishops shared with us in 1995. “At the heart of our vision of life is the Asian reverential sense of mystery and of the sacred, a spirituality that regards life as sacred and discovers the Transcendent and its gifts even in mundane affairs, in tragedy or victory, in brokenness or wholeness. This deep interiority draws people to experience harmony and inner peace and infuses ethics into all of creation. Noteworthy among them are the growing consciousness regarding human dignity and empowerment of the poor, the growing voices of groups and peoples for humanised development and the cries of marginalised groups for participatory and democratic governance. We dwelt on the movements for the protection of the environment and ecosystem linked to justice and the solidarity of committed groups and peoples especially in the struggle for the rights of women, children, especially the girl child, and those of indigenous peoples. Truly remarkable is the increasing number of young peoples moving towards solidarity and community, and seeking a deeper spirituality. We are consoled by efforts of many groups to foster dialogue with people of other faiths." (VI Plenary Assembly 1995 No. 10)

It is therefore this integral vision that has enabled us to articulate some basic principles that should be the foundation of our involvement and participation in the world of tourism.

Our Strategies for a Humanising and Sustainable Tourism in Asia

1. Our priority for the most afflicted through Ministries of Compassion

The negative side effects of tourism development can be avoided or minimised greatly through a holistic and integrated approach towards development. Tourism developers pay little attention to the wishes and desires of the local communities as well as the physical environment. We as Church need to be more conscious of the cultural and religious values of the people and look for ways to protect them. Their wellbeing and interest should not be overlooked. We need to listen to their side of the story. It is by knowing their lives and situations more fully that we will be able to help them to confront some of these problems. We thus need to be more sensitive to their hopes and aspirations and examine concrete ways in which to work with persons and communities so that they can have an impact on society in general and the environment and ecology as well. Thus pastoral ministry for tourism begins with some form of dialogue with the "disadvantaged" and "small people" resulting in negotiations and advocacy with the policy makers, in order to redress the negative impact of tourism on their lives.

2. Our Readiness to Participatory Involvement of the Marginalised

It is not just knowing about their lives but entering into a process of dialogue with them. Our experiences have shown that the best way to lessen the negative impact of mass global tourism is to begin with positive actions at the micro-local levels. Our journey and struggle with the people has given us new insights into tourism so that we can come up with more creative ways to overcome some of the problems. What is truly new is not in concepts and words but in concrete lived experiences. Thus we can see that the process of globalisation of tourism can be arrested at the local level by new actions on behalf of justice and equitable structures. It is our responsibility to evaluate the impact of tourism on the lives of the people of Asia and promote the involvement and participation of the Church without reservations. This dialogue helps us to educate the members of the Church to a greater commitment. In our experiences it has been clear that to create greater awareness in the Church has to be through the communication of the heart. We need to share the stories of the people and their feelings of hurt and discouragement and how they by living their faith were able to experience the hope and joy that comes with lives lived in love and service. We can be the main link between the people affected by the negative aspects of tourism and the government and business.

3. Our Dialogue with the World of Tourism – Managers and Industry

Our participation and involvement in the lives of people affected negatively by tourism enable us to be familiar with the views and perspectives of the poor. It is then that we can enter into dialogue with the government and agencies involved in the tourism industry. We listen to them and evaluate the criteria they employ to make plans in the area of economics, social development and environmental protection etc. There seem to be great opportunities for lay persons to take a more active role in the world of tourism and in their willingness to collaboratie with others to set up tour agencies and invest in the industry especially in directly bringing people together.

It is in the context of this process of active involvement through dialogue, participation and advocacy that the Church can find both long term, holistic and lasting solutions to the problems related to mass global tourism. We need to know enough of this phenomenon to be able to address the various new problems that are arising, or to make these new opportunities of encounters of peoples and cultures, religions and traditions promote a more harmonious and just world for all people.

4. Intercontinental Dialogue and Exchanges

If our involvement is to be true it has to affect the lives of people and transform the situations that they live in. There seems to be a whole new set of opportunities for the Churches in different parts of the world to be involved more directly in addressing both the problems encountared in the industry today and to look for new ways to forge both an alternative tourism and a holistic tourism. We need not any longer sit on the margins and criticise others for what they are doing and move to do something that is in keeping with our basic beliefs. Thus new pastoral ministries are the result of a long process of "dialogue-discernment" resulting in deeds that transform. We cannot run away from the fact that our reflections on various aspects of life have to inevitably lead us to expressions of our Christian faith in our lives. Whatever touches our lives and that of human persons leads us to experience our faith in a new and renewed way. Our diverse experiences in the pastoral ministry of tourism in Asia and the other continents has been the basis for continuing the search to make our responses ever more relevant and meaningful. It is in the light of the Gospel as enunciated in the Social Teachings of the Church that will have to influence our economic and social perspectives when it comes to formulating a new agenda in matters related to tourism.

5. Pastoral Orientations and our Pastoral Responses

The basic thrust of the Church is to promote the positive effects of tourism and reduce the negative aspects. It has been pointed out that we need to take a broader and holistic perspective of the real issues related to modern day mass tourism. This perspective has to be one that does not view tourism as only the means to promote a solely "growth-oriented development" but one where the positive aspects of tourism are enhanced to ensure that tourism is sustainable, person and community centred and environmentally friendly. We can look for ways and means through which more and more Catholic universities and educational institutions take more seriously their involvement in the tourism industry directly or indirectly.

There are therefore some basic principles that we would consider as central to our task in promoting new pastoral ministries in the area of tourism.

Community-Based Approaches

In order for this to be possible, there has to be greater importance given to the role of the local community and government in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all tourist related projects. It is through this participation of the community that we will able to help the local people to strengthen their current standard of living and to ensure that other social and cultural situations are given vital importance. It is essential that the authorities determine the rate of growth of the industry and this has to be in consultation with the people and in dialogue with all those who are interested in developing the tourism industry. This will go a long way in ensuring the economic criteria: namely, profit does not become the sole criteria for determining the success of a tourist destination. The local population will be part of the labour force and thus strengthen the local economy. This has been our experience in many of the programmes and projects in various parts of India, in Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Various examples can be cited of local communities that campaign against the violation of their rights through education and awareness campaigns both at local and national levels.

Need for Exchange and Networking

A greater and more effective exchange of information among people engaged in the tourism industry ensures the emergence of more healthy forms of tourism and the eradication of effects that negatively affect the lives of the local people. Sustainability seems to call for local solutions to problems. Bio-diversity and fragile eco-systems can only be protected by a firm commitment to look for holistic solutions to modern day tourism. The information, network created among the various countries in Asia both through the Ecumenical Coalition on Third World Tourism and other networks have had enough impact on the work of the local communities. It has helped to control the global forces, especially in the area of child prostitution and trafficking of women.

Inter-religious and Ecumenical Collaboration

Response of the Church in Asia in the area of tourism resulted in more and more programmes involving other Christians and people of other faiths in Asia. This is the result of greater involvement of the laity, both in their professions and in their everyday lives. This is what will make our contributions truly be in keeping with our objectives of being at the service of a more humanising life for all our peoples. The vast majority of the people of Asia have very few opportunities to travel beyond the borders of our country. Those privileged have to be helped to enter into a meaningful and enriching experience with their neighbours. The people they visit have to be treated with respect and with justice and they have to be sensitive to their plight, the cultures and to ensure harmony and goodwill. We need to learn to walk on the sacred grounds of other religions and traditions.

Priority for Projects with the Poor

In the context of commercialised tourism with its numerous dehumanising effects, it is a loud and clear call on the part of the Church today to respond with love and compassion to those who are victims of tourism. Our awareness that it does not matter who has caused hurt but the need to remedy the pain and the sorrow, the suffering and the humiliation is what has to move us to look into the well being of these vulnerable people. We need to get close enough to the "context" in which these people "survive" more that live. The Church as a sign of hope has not only to be a voice to bring comfort to these persons and communities but also speak with truth on behalf of justice, when the forces and institutions in society, continue to bring misery through damage to dignity and presented. We believe that this process of "dialogue of life" is also the process of evangelisation. We through our words, deeds and witness bring to reality the Kingdom of God and the Gospel of Jesus becomes visible among the people whom we live and work. When the Church gives new meaning to the lives of the downtrodden we become to them the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. In the context of the crisis in our societies and the challenges posed by mass tourism we cannot remain neutral and indifferent.

Pastoral Care of Tourism - Education and Awareness

Pastoral Care for those engaged in tourism, has also to mean caring for those who have to face the harsh consequences of the negative effects of mass tourism as well as those who visit other lands. A process of awareness and education seems central to making tourism a humanising phenomenon. Vigilance over policy makers and business corporations seems central to make tourism a meaningful encounter of peoples and their cultures and to protect the environment. It is therefore in the context of this integral and holistic vision that we need new and creative responses in the context of our countries and local situations. It is obvious that many Churches in Asia, and especially with the active involvement of the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism, will work towards greater interventions at the national and diocesan levels that have proved effective in the past. 

Conclusion

Thus we can conclude that whatever involvement the Church has in promoting a more just and equitable tourism from our experiences begins with involvement with those who are living in the world of tourism, especially the workers and the host countries. It is this involvement either in the form of offering direct services to them or educating them about their rights and responsibilities that enables us to work progressively to bring more just and humane dimensions to their lives and situations. We need to be at their service to ensure that the rights of the visitors and those of the visited are protected. This is only possible if we engender a deep respect for others. We need not exploit, oppress or deprive people of their freedom to enjoy the goods. We can share this with all peoples and the whole of humanity. Our Vision of tourism should be to ensure that the whole human family has an opportunity to live life to the full. This, for us Christians, is possible by bringing the values of the Gospel to every strata of society and to its workings. For us this is an integral aspect of our evangelising mission and thus the real challenge for all those who are involved in the world of tourism.

 

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