Pope says ecotourism is good if controlled
Pope John Paul II has praised ecotourism but warned that it must respect the rights of local cultures to survive and develop and control their own destinies.
Later this month, the Church will join other international organisations in the observance of the 23rd World Tourism Day. This year's theme is: "Ecotourism, Key to Sustainable Development."
2002 is the International Year of Ecotourism, an observance sponsored by the World Tourism Organisation.
The Pope has already published a message for the occasion, in which he states that "tourism allows us to use part of our free time to contemplate the goodness and beauty of God in his creation and, thanks to contact with others, helps to further dialogue and reciprocal knowledge."
He asserts that ecotourism is "certainly good in its assumptions", but "must be controlled so that it is not perverted, becoming a vehicle of abuse and discrimination".
"If the protection of the environment is promoted as an end in itself, there is the risk that new modern forms of colonialism will come into being, which might injure the traditional rights of resident communities in a specific territory," he explained. "Hence, it would become an obstacle to the survival and development of local cultures, and economic resources would be taken away from the authority of local governments."
World Tourism Organisation | World Tourism Day 2002
16 Sep 2002