The representatives of civil society, academe and religious bodies from Australia, Bangladesh, Burma, France, Germany, Hong Kong (China), India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand met in Bangkok at the Consultation on Tourism, Traditions and Terrorism during April 28 – May 1, 2003.
In discussing the various issues related to tourism, the group stressed that the debate on sustainable tourism must give due importance and consideration to the issues that concern human dignity, peace, justice and for the protection of nature. Like terrorism, tourism in the contemporary world is often a form of aggression on unsuspecting communities, cultures and the environment. The tourist as a pilgrim of peace and justice cannot be realized as long as commodification and conspicuous consumption, unsustainable uses of natural resources like land, water, energy, forests and oceans as well as unfair labour and trade practices are the norm in tourism. [read Declaration]
The meeting has been held in the midst of fears and anxieties triggered by the outbreak of SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. This deadly virus has so far claimed the deaths of several hundred people and thousands have become victims of atypical pneumonia caused by the virus.
The participants of the consultation expressed their deep felt sympathies and condolences to the kin of those who died and have fallen victims of this serious illness.
The General-Secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia and Chairperson of Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT), Dr Ahn Jae Woong, underlined that governments and health workers of the affected countries are taking unprecedented steps to contain the spread of the virus. The response from the civil society have been one of caution and reflection. They have mostly supported governmental action while being skeptical of the media sensationalisation of this unfortunate and tragic epidemic. [read Press Release]