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Pope issues warning against tourism

John Paul II has said that while tourism can be a privileged instrument of peace and progress, it can also promote "humiliating aberrations" including the exploitation of women and children in a scandalous and unscrupulous sex trade.

He issued his warning in a message for 22nd World Tourism Day, which the United Nations will observe on 27 September.

The Holy Father wrote: "Every possible measure must be taken to ensure that tourism never becomes a latter-day form of exploitation, but is, instead, a point of fruitful dialogue between different civilizations in which experiences are exchanged in creative ways."

He said that, in some places, "tourism has produced a kind of subculture that degrades both the tourists and the host community."

The Pope also regretted the phenomenon of a "superficial exoticism" that promotes the selling of particular products and stays in sophisticated holiday resorts cut off from real contact with the culture of the host country.

"Driven by consumerism, the culture, religious ceremonies and ethnic festivals can become consumer goods, which are increasingly debased in order to meet the demands of a larger number of tourists," the papal message continued.

John Paul II went on to lend his support to the World Ethical Code for Tourism.

"It is the fruit of wide-ranging reflection undertaken by various nations and tourism associations, and by the World Tourism Organisation," he wrote. "This document is an important step toward ensuring that tourism is seen not just as one among many economic activities, but as a privileged means for the development of individuals and peoples."