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Today is World Tourism Day

September 27, 2006

Today is World Tourism Day
Sept. 27, 2006 – Today marks the official recognition of World Tourism Day, a worldwide annual event that began in 1980 and is organized by the World Tourism Organization. This day serves to foster awareness among the international community of the social, cultural, political and economic values of travel and tourism.

"Tourism Enriches" is the theme for this year’s celebrations and speaks to the many contributions and opportunities created by the $646 billion U.S. tourism industry.

Speaking on World Tourism Day, Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday that tourism should help different cultures bridge gaps and promote dialogue between people.

As nearly 30,000 pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square to attend his weekly general audience, Benedict said, "I hope that tourism will increasingly promote dialogue and respect between cultures, thereby becoming an open door to peace and harmonious cohabitation."

Francesco Frangialli, secretary general UNWTO, said, "It is not surprising that the last UNWTO General Assembly decided to dedicate this year’s World Tourism Day to one short, sharp message: Tourism enriches. As more countries leave UNCTAD’s list of Least Developed States thanks to tourism, communities are discovering a better life, one where they can be proud of their environment and culture and where small businesses are booming in traditionally poor societies."

International tourism leaders will meet in Lisbon, Portugal today, the site of World Tourism Day’s official activities.

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