Print Version    Email to Friend
Vacations are not holidays from environmental protection

VATICAN (SE): Going on vacation must not be an occasion to relax your commitment to saving energy and protecting the environment, the Vatican says in its message for World Tourism Day, which is to be observed this year on September 27.

The annual message is devoted to the theme of sustainable energy. It argues that “tourism not only contributes to global warming: it is also a victim of it.”

The Vatican message—released by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and signed by its president, Antonio Maria Cardinal Veglio, notes that the Holy See has always joined in the annual observance of World Tourism Day, which will be marked this year on September 27.

The message says that the Vatican has always recognised the day as “an opportunity to dialogue with the civil world and offer its concrete contribution, based on the gospel.”

The document cites the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI saying the preservation of the environment requires changes in a consumerist and materialist way of life. 

The pontifical council argues that it is irresponsible for the tourism industry to assume that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed.”

The document says that the consumption of fossil-fuel energy is threatening sensitive environments, including those in popular tourist locations.

The message calls upon the tourism industry to “adapt to the conditions of climate change by reducing its emissions of hothouse gas, which at present represent five per cent of the total.”

World Tourism Day is promoted by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. The theme for this year is Tourism and Sustainable Energy: Powering Sustainable Development.

While acknowledging that people are becoming more aware of their responsibility to care for the earth, the Vatican message says it is also true that people risk setting aside their ecological sensitivities while on vacation “in a search for certain comforts to which we believe we are entitled, without always reflecting on their consequences.”

It adds, “It is necessary to cultivate the ethics of responsibility and prudence and to ask ourselves about the impact and consequences of our actions.”

The statement points out that it is foreseen that during this year international tourism will involve one billion people and this figure is predicted to double by 2030.

However, this number would be much bigger if local tourism figures are taken into account as well.

“This growth, which surely has positive impacts, can lead to a serious environmental impact owing, among other factors, to the immoderate consumption of energy resources, the increase in polluting agents and the production of waste,” the statement notes.

It adds that sustainable development is already ingrained and must spread to tourism as well.

More from this section