Tourism Must Be Vehicle of Values, Holy See Stresses

Monsignor Monni Addresses International Group

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BEIJING, OCT. 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Respect for the dignity of the person and his fundamental rights are examples of the values that the tourist phenomenon has transmitted, the Vatican says.



Monsignor Piero Monni, the permanent observer of the Holy See before the World Tourism Organization, delivered that message when addressing the latter's 15th general assembly.

Tourism "builds a culture of hospitality and reciprocal understanding," Monsignor Monni said Monday. "It contributes the awareness and appreciation of different cultures from around the world." The organization, meeting in Beijing through Friday, is about to become a specialized institution of the United Nations.

Given the singular function of tourism, the Church operates in this sector so that "ethical values will always be present" and stresses that attention must be given "to the priority of human beings in every social phenomenon so that even through tourism their cultural and spiritual aspirations can be reached," Monsignor Monni continued.

"Tourism is also an efficient instrument for combating poverty and it represents an important instrument for social and occupational growth," he said. However, "it is vulnerable to wars, terrorism, natural disasters and epidemics."

Yet, the tourist industry has an enormous capacity to recover, the monsignor said. He expressed the Holy See's admiration for the Chinese people in overcoming the difficulties stemming from SARS, or atypical pneumonia, which also threatened its tourist market.

"Tourists appreciate cultural and religious values that nowadays can be found alongside the quest for natural environments and cultures still in a pristine state," he continued. " China offers all these elements of attraction and fascination."

"In this context, tourism gathers the expectations and hopes of those who see in it a great source of energy -- an energy able to quicken the pace of economic development in various countries," he added.

Monsignor Monni concluded his address by expressing the hope that the assembly will mark "a positive period of serene dialogue for a renewed increase in development of values of truth, liberty and justice."