While tourism can broaden travelers' horizons and improve local economies, it cannot be seen as being part of "sustainable development" unless it includes respect for workers' rights, the local culture and the environment, said Cardinal Peter Turkson.
The U.N. General Assembly proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, noted the cardinal, who is prefect of the Vatican official for integral human development.
In a message for the celebration Sept. 27 of World Tourism Day, Cardinal Turkson said that according to the social teaching of the Catholic Church, "true development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone. In fact, to be authentic, it must be well rounded; that is, it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man."
The World Tourism Organization reported that in 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals was around 1.2 billion; one out of 11 jobs globally are in tourism. "It therefore occupies an important place in the economies of individual states and in policies that focus on inclusive development and environmental sustainability globally," the cardinal wrote in his message, which was released Aug. 1 by the Vatican.
The Vatican, Cardinal Turkson said, supports the WTO vision of "sustainable tourism," which is a form of tourism that is "responsible and not destructive or detrimental to the environment nor to the sociocultural context of the locality. Moreover, it must be particularly respectful of the population and their heritage, with a view to safeguarding personal dignity and labor rights, especially those of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people."
Morally, he said, holiday or vacation time "cannot be a pretext either for irresponsibility or for exploitation: In fact, it is a noble time in which everyone can add value to one's own life and that of others."
Sustainable tourism is a means of development, he said, when "it becomes a vehicle of new opportunities and not a source of problems."
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