Beijing (Fides Service) – Following the summit meeting between China the European Union, the tourist industry is China has been fully alerted. A tourist operator in Beijing tells Fides “the China UE talks opened new paths for business. The sides agreed that Shengen member nations will soon be open to Chinese tourists. This could happen before the end of the year and so we must be ready. More and more Chinese choose to go abroad for their holidays-today about 80 million. At present their destinations are limited to Asia (South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia), and Australia. So far China has signed tourism exchange pacts with 28 countries. Germany is one of these since July last year. And we hope other European countries will follow.”.
At the Beijing meeting it was agreed to facilitate granting of tourist permits which means that soon Chinese Catholics may be able to make a long desired pilgrimage abroad. A Catholic observer told Fides: “We have had this dream for years. But red tape always prevented us from making our dream visits to Rome, Lourdes, Fatima. China’s tourist agencies do not realise the potential of this industry which is destined to grow fast ”.
In late October the 15th WTO World Tourism Organisation Meeting was held in Beijing. Addressing the meeting, Permanent Holy See Observer to the WTO Archbishop Mons. Piero Monni spoke of the moral aspect of tourism: “Tourism is an effective means to eliminate poverty and promote social growth but it is also a sector easily threatened by war, terrorism, epidemics. Tourism serves to transmit values such as respect for human dignity and human rights and in this field the Church has a contribution to make”. Archbishop Monni did not fail to mention China’s rich cultural, religious and natural heritage and he said he hoped it would promote and develop values such as truth, liberty and justice.
Tourism can also help to overcome barriers built of prejudice, diffidence which often affect relations between people of different cultures and religions also with regard to delicate matters. (NZ) (Fides Service 14/11/2003 Lines: 46 Words:537)