In tourism, Goa church sees great new tool

15 Dec 2009

The Roman Catholic church in Goa wants tourists in the state to spare the proverbial beach and booze and hit the Bible instead.
This is articulated in a new book titled “The challenge and prospects of tourism in Goa today” compiled by Ranjan Solomon, consultant to the church-backed Centre for Responsible Tourism.
“The church has to make her faith more alive, dynamic and challenging by encountering the reality of tourism,” it states. The book was released by Goa archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao.
This is a response to what it calls the fallout of tourism in Goa - namely “erosion of values, abuse of natural resources, growing disrespect to women and children”.
Goa sees nearly two million tourists each year, a number which surpasses its population of 1.4 million. Christians, largely Roman Catholics, comprise about 30 percent of the state’s population.
“Many people who are employed in the tourism industry are not in a position even to fulfil their Sunday obligation because of the workload and odd working hours, especially during peak season,” says the book’s concluding chapter.
It tries to create a bridge between Christianity and tourism.
The 87-page compilation, which is made available at church-run outlets across the state, also calls for Eucharistic celebrations in various languages to the visiting tourists.
“Priests who are working in tourism- related areas should ensure that the religious needs of tourists are met. For this, appropriate measures should be taken so that visitors can participate in the Eucharistic celebration in their own language or with other expressions of their culture, always with respect to the liturgical dispositions in force,” the book states.
Calling for moving away from the largely beach-oriented tourism pattern, the book calls for tour guides and escorts to be religiously sensitised and trained.
“Tour guides and escorts should be properly trained, especially those accompanying tourists to the places of religious significance. They should be so trained that they not only explain the significance of the religious place but also inform them about the religious services,” it says.
Urging the church not to focus on religion in isolation, the book emphasises on a “great need to monitor all the anti-social activities like drug marketing, paedophilia, sex tourism, etc, which are taking place in the parish community”.