By Cindy Wooden | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY – With more and more people planning their vacations online and sharing their experiences digitally, the tourism industry and tourists themselves should pay more attention to using online forums to encourage respect for the locales visited and for the communities that live there, the Vatican said.
In a message for the Sept. 27 celebration of World Tourism Day, Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said the "digital transformation" of tourism has the potential for promoting happier and healthier vacations that do more to protect the natural environment and promote authentic encounters between people.
The cardinal's message was released by the Vatican Aug. 4.
For the 2018 celebration of the day, the World Tourism Organization is focusing on the industry's digital transformation. The cardinal's message noted how digital technology is "dramatically changing the way we live periods of rest, vacation, mobility and tourism in all its forms."
Digital innovation, Cardinal Turkson wrote, should have the aim of "promoting inclusiveness, increasing the engagement of people and local communities and achieving an intelligent and equitable management of resources."
The growing use of online resources and comments can increase the quality of services, but also can "educate people on the shared responsibility toward our 'common home' in which we live, generating forms of innovation for the functional recovery of waste, recycling and creative reuse that helps protect the environment," the cardinal said.
The Vatican's hope, he said, is that "tourism will contribute to glorifying God, and to increasingly validating human dignity, mutual knowledge, spiritual brotherhood, refreshment of body and soul."