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Going on holidays? The Vatican has a message for you

Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Vatican Dicastery (department) for promoting Integral Human Development, has highlighted a series of opportunities and problems in the tourism sector in a message for World Tourism Day September 27.

Driving the news

“Tourism and Work: A Better Future for All” is the theme of this year’s World Tourism Day, an initiative of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The big picture

“Where there is no work, there cannot be progress, there cannot be wellbeing and, assuredly, there cannot be a better future”, Turkson claimed in a message published Wednesday.

“Work, which is not only the commitment but the way by which man fulfills himself in society and in the world, is an essential part in determining integral development, be it of the person or of the community in which he lives”, the cardinal continued.

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One level deeper

Turkson admitted in his message that “problems are not few” in the tourism sector. He said many in this line of work – from travel consultatants to tour guides – “work in conditions of precariousness and sometimes of illegality, with unfair remuneration, constrained to exhausting work, often far from the family, with a high risk of stress and bowed to the rules of an aggressive competition”.

The cardinal warned tourists against the “exploitation of workers in poor countries”. He also cautioned against the exploitation of sites with a “rich environmental and historical-cultural patrimony” while “indigenous peoples rarely draw benefit from the use of local resources”.

“Unacceptable also are acts of violence against the host populations, the offense of their cultural identity, and all the activities that cause the degradation and voracious exploitation of the environment”, Turkson said.

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Why it matters

On a more positive note, Cardinal Turkson also affirmed that the tourism sector offers considerable “development potential”, “be it in terms of opportunities of employment or of human, social and cultural promotion”.

Turkson recalled that UNWTO figures suggest one out of every eleven new jobs in the world is created in the tourism sector that in the coming decade will cater to some two billion travellers all over the world.

The cardinal also called tourism an “opportunity to meet with people of the most diverse countries of the world, and to initiate that knowledge that constitutes the first step for the abandonment of prejudices and stereotypes and for building relations marked by friendship”.

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