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Vatican encourages sustainable and responsible tourism

By Katie Ascough - 14 August, 2020

Cardinal Turkson

The Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released a message last Friday in view of World Tourism Day coming up on 27 September. It called on governments and economic policy makers to promote and encourage responsible tourism, particularly in rural and remote areas.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of the Dicastery, focused the message on “tourism and rural development”, the theme chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for the annual observance.

The cardinal began: “The 41st World Tourism Day occurs this year in the uncertain context marked by the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, whose end is not yet in sight. The result is a drastic reduction in human mobility and tourism, both international and national, reaching historic lows. The suspension of international flights, the closure of airports and borders, the adoption of severe travel restrictions, including domestic ones, are causing an unprecedented crisis in many sectors related to the tourism industry. It is feared that in the worst case scenario, at the end of 2020 there will be a decrease of about one billion international tourists, with a global economic loss of about 1,200 billion dollars. This would result in a huge loss of jobs in the entire tourism sector, with millions of jobs at risk in one of the most labor-intensive sectors of the economy.”

In the effort to revive the tourism sector, Cardinal Turkson invites all to seriously promote sustainable and responsible tourism, with greater interest in non-urban tourist destinations: “It is, therefore, the promotion of sustainable and responsible tourism which, implemented according to principles of social and economic justice and in full respect of the environment and cultures, recognises the centrality of the host local community and its right to be a protagonist in the sustainable and socially responsible development of its territory; a tourism that favors the positive interaction between the tourism industry, the local community and travellers.

“This type of tourism can become a driving force to support the rural economy, which is made up of agriculture and, often, family farms, small size, marginal areas and low income received from the food chain. Tourism and rural agriculture can thus become two essential components of a new world that one hopes to build,” the cardinal says.

Cardinal Turkson concludes his message by asking the bishops and those responsible for the pastoral care of tourism for a “joint commitment, so that everyone, in their own territory, can take concrete initiatives to help tourist activities”. He urged fellow Catholics and their parishes to respond “with solicitude and generosity to the needs and requirements of tourism workers, who are in difficulty today, and together develop networks of proximity in relationships and in helping to support lost income … With God’s help, let us all set out on the same path towards a better future.”

The full message can be read on the Vatican website by clicking here.

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