Tourism must be included in theological studies in Asia because the Church has not addressed the subject of tourism within the framework of theology and ethics, say Christian theologians. Commercial tourism breeds injustice and contradicts the precepts of the Bible and hence it has become “a theological and ethical imperative” to challenge and critique the present paradigm of tourism, they said during their March 19-22 consultation organized by the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT) in Chennai, southern India. About 20 Catholic and Protestant theologians from Indonesia, India, Thailand and Taiwan, participated in that meeting and called upon theological communities and civil society in Asia to challenge the myth that tourism was for the good of all. “It is a myth that tourism produces employment, economic development and alleviates the sufferings of the poor,” said Reverend Wati Longchar, dean of the senate of Serampore university that is affiliated to 52 theological colleges in South Asia. Women and children are often the worst sufferers as in the case of sex tourism, said Reverend Evangeline Rajkumar, professor of women’s studies at the United Theological College in Bangalore. Commercial tourism “denies” the poor the right to live in dignity and theological institutions can challenge this negative trend from the justice perspective through a well-designed course, the theologians said. Caesar D’Mello, director of Thailand-based ECOT, said, “tourism is one of the largest industries in the world with an outlay of around 10 percent of global GDP and 300 million employees.” The consultation is a springboard for the further development of incorporating tourism into the curriculum of the Church, he said. IB13761.1646
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