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Message for World Tourism Day 2006

"No One Is A Copy. We Are All Unique Creations"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 25, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the Message from the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers on the occasion of World Tourism Day 2006, Sept. 27.

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Dear Friends,

"Tourism Enriches." This is the theme chosen for this year's celebration of World Tourism Day, which takes place on Sept. 27.

On this occasion, we would like to convey a warm and special greeting to those who work in the tourism sector, as we send our best wishes to tourists and those who welcome them courteously, kindly and, for many of them, also in a Christian manner.

The number of people who experience the large-scale and significant phenomenon of tourism personally, or through others, is on the increase.

Indeed, traveling and visiting are verbs that concern many people, who are attracted by the enchantment of what is unknown, although glimpsed in some way, thanks to the mass media, travel agencies or other people's tales. Admiring and desiring are also characteristic of a significant portion of humankind, called on by so many trips and visits.

This means, therefore, a reciprocity in a real experience of space and culture, full of differences and desires that give rise to a host of questions, many of which remain unanswered. This means an active and passive reciprocity, that fuels the imbalance of the planet we have in common, that opens up new opportunities for encounter, encourages development, and even provokes panic and challenges ethical conscience.

But what kind of experience is this? The answers are many, although the context is the same. For many people it means land, air and green spaces -- in a word, nature -- woods and mountains, water, sea and wind. Others think of planes, trains or cars.

For quite a few people it has to do with a financial opportunity, business, a monopoly or a credit card, capital, financial interest or the stock market.

For some -- and we hope they are many and growing in number -- it signifies ties with people, neighbors, family and community, a matter of the heart and feeling, with attentiveness and respect.

For a large number it is about expectation and hope, trust and perseverance, spirit and faith and the future. Still for others, it is history that manifests itself, artistic heritage, archives and libraries, painting and sculpture, poetry, literature, cathedrals, churches, temples, mosques, buildings, diplomatic documents, culture, in brief, and even cuisine.

A multifaceted wealth, therefore, facets which are linked up throughout the wide world. A wealth that intersects with hegemonies, in time and space.

Peoples meet and the number of visits multiplies, in an unstoppable flow of tourism. The richness of peoples, who at the same time suffer from underdevelopment, are admired. Feelings of solidarity, often weak in configuration, are stirred up at the end of a trip.

Nevertheless -- thanks be to God -- the impression remains that the economic and financial system is not unique, but rather hegemonic, and it is not the best, but it is the present system, a source of great imbalances.

What remains is the impression of a humanity that is much richer when the windows of the system are opened up to others, thereby giving access to the cultural, historical, natural, aesthetic, human and spiritual treasures that each people jealously guards to a greater or lesser extent.

Unforgettable in this regard are the words of Pope John Paul II, when he said: "Contact with others leads to discovering their 'secret,' to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better. This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multifaceted gifts of God to human beings" (Pope John Paul II, "Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2005," 1).

Tourism enriches precisely insofar as it helps in rendering the so-called rich systems relative and opens them up to the perception of other forms of "being rich."

Nature, in its primary richness, as manifested in the cosmic cycle, is the welcoming mother who is embraced by our eyes in contemplating the Everest or Kilimanjaro, who is touched by our hands in the blue of the ocean, whom we tenderly welcome in the grey depths of the Black Forest, or whom we admire when, as we fly on the wings of an aircraft, we see what looks like a carpet of cotton wool below us, while the blue of the sky reigns supreme over us.

Cultural heritage highlights the history of everyone, which has left traces of civilization on bell towers and minarets, on frescoes and pyramids, on bridges and satellites in outer space. This is a limitless wealth that belongs to us all, the common heritage of ...

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