INTERNATIONAL ECOTOURISM MONTHLY
Year 6 - Issue 67 - Jan 05
What prompted you to found the International Institute For Peace Through Tourism in 1986?
IIPT evolved from my consulting firm, L. J. D'Amore & Associates - which had done the world's first comprehensive study on the future of tourism in 1976. The study was done for the Canadian Government Office of Tourism (CGOT). We continued to be futurists to the tourism industry in Canada by introducing a service called "TOURSCAN" which was an on-going monitoring system of trends in the travel industry as well as social, cultural, economic, demographic, environmental and geopolitical trends - and their impact on tourism.
In the first five years of the service - we looked at the future primarily through a North American lens, through which the future looked very promising and positive for tourism with higher levels of income, two income households, higher levels of education, people living longer, healthier lives, retiring earlier and with good pensions, etc.
In the period 1980 - '82, we began looking at the future through a global lens - and this gave us a totally different view of the future which in the early 1980's included the increasing tensions of East and West; a growing gap between have and have-not regions of the world; a deteriorating environment; and an increase in terrorism.
The IIPT was formed in 1986 in response to these global issues, and with a view to harnessing travel & tourism, the world's largest industry, as a force for a better world. It was born with a vision of making travel and tourism the "World's first Global Peace Industry" and the belief that "Every traveler is potentially an 'Ambassador for Peace.'"
My personal motivation was that I had pretty much done all that I would liked to have done with my consulting firm - which had been formed in 1969 - and most of our projects from 1969 to 1986 were projects that were done for the first time. One of those projects for example was during the second energy crisis of 1979 - 80. My consulting firm had a 'National Demonstration Project" with three Canadian communities - one in East Canada (Fredericton, New Brunswick) - one in Central Canada (Richmond Hill, Ontario) - and one in West Canada (Vernon, British Columbia). Aim of the project was to determine "What's possible when an entire community (city/town) gets behind the idea of Energy Conservation."
By 1983, I began think of what I would do with the rest of my life - and like many others "wanting to make a difference." Tourism was my sphere of influence. Over the next few years - my consulting firm was transitioned into the IIPT with an underlying unstated aim of determining "What's possible when an entire industry - the world's largest industry - gets behind the idea of peace: peace within ourselves; peace with our neighbors in the global village; and peace with nature.
In what way was your organisation to be different, and more efficient that other NGOs or GOs, and to what extent has it succeeded?
Our organization, I believe - was different in that it was totally dedicated to promoting tourism as a vehicle for a higher purpose. The promotion of international understanding and cooperation, an improved environment - both built and natural, the preservation of bio-diversity and cultural heritage, Sustainable Development. And as indicated earlier, with a vision of making travel and tourism the "World's first Global Peace Industry" and the belief that "Every traveler is potentially an 'Ambassador for Peace.'"
And to what extent has it succeeded? Our foremost goal when the IIPT was formed was to create awareness to these values of tourism within the travel and tourism industry - at all levels - and in all sectors.
The first international forum in which the concept of Sustainable Tourism was discussed - was the IIPT First Global Conference in Vancouver.
The world's first "Codes of Ethics and Guidelines for Sustainable Tourism" were developed by IIPT for the Canadian Tourism industry.
The first international study on the state of the art regarding Codes of Conduct for Tourism and Environment (following the Rio Summit with its emphasis on Agenda 21 and Industry Codes of Conduct) was done by IIPT for the United Nations Environment Program.
Our IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler is increasingly being promoted to travelers throughout the world.
If someone did a bibliographic search on "Peace through Tourism" - there would be few references prior to our First Global Conference in Vancouver, 1988. Since then, there have been an ever expanding list of references.
There are now two academic graduate programs on Peace through Tourism - one in Australia, another in the Netherlands; and more and more students writing papers, thesis and doctoral dissertations on 'Peace through Tourism.'
IIPT has awarded scholarships to students in each region of the world writing the best paper on 'Peace through Tourism.'
From the outset, we have promoted tourism that is socially, culturally and environmentally responsible - and we continue to do so. We also were among the first to highlight the importance of tourism as an economic engine for Poverty Reduction. This was a focus of our 2nd Global Summit in Geneva in February, 2003.
We have demonstrated these values of tourism in practical and concrete ways through more than 500 'real life' case studies and models of best practice in our conferences and summits beginning with our Second Global Conference in Montreal in 1994.
And we have been successful in building a "Coalition of Partners for World Peace through" Tourism with more than 30 prestigious international organizations - all committed to a 'Millennium Project" that contributes to the vision of tourism as a global peace industry. As well, we have several active chapters and international networks including an Educators, Community Tourism, Cultural Tourism, Spirituality in Tourism and an International Student/Youth Leadership Network.
The basics: What is Peace for you? A prolonged truce or something more? And what about inner peace? What is wrong with Heraclitus who wrote "War is father of all, king of all".
IIPT's concept of peace embraces six dimensions:
I am hopeful that humanity has grown in wisdom in these past 2,500 years - and particularly from the lessons of the last 100 years in which more than 110 million people were killed in warfare - most of them - and increasingly so in the last 50 years - women and children. We are seeing in the Middle East, Iraq and elsewhere that most of the casualties are non-combatants, innocent men, women and children.
The ancient Romans, a few centuries after Heraclitus, also believed: "Se vie pacem - pare bellum" - "If you want peace - prepare for war."
I believe the lessons of history teach us that if we want peace - we must prepare for peace; a peace built on the foundations of justice, and respect for the dignity of all people.
As Gandhi has said - "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth - in time the entire world would be blind and toothless."
What makes Tourism the first "Peace Industry" as you put it? Is there a historical record of war being avoided somewhere thanks to tourism? Is it true that some of the now famous tourism destinations have sprung out of former entertainment spots for troops on leave? And can tourism realistically heal wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan?
IIPT was born with the 'vision' of travel and tourism becoming the world's first global peace industry. A vision for me is somewhat like a navigational star - it gives you direction - even if you may never get to the star.
Shortly after 9-11, in an address at Georgetown University, former U.S. President Bill Clinton said: "don't you think it's interesting that in the most modern of ages, the biggest problem is the oldest problem of human society - the fear of the other. And how quickly fear leads to distrust, to hatred, to dehumanisation, and to death."
Travel is the one social and cultural phenomenon that can overcome the 'fear of the other.' It can shatter the isolation and 'fear of the other' to which President Clinton refers. Travel provides us with the opportunity to experience the welcome and hospitality of other peoples and cultures - their human values and qualities - their kind deeds - and to experience what is different in their lives. It can be one to one citizen diplomacy in its finest form, serving as a means of dialogue at a personal level.
Is there a historical record of war being avoided somewhere thanks to tourism? It may be difficult to establish that historically war has been avoided due to tourism, however the European Travel Commission (ETC) was formed with the idea of promoting travel among Europeans following World War II so that people might come to know one another; the Federation of Youth Travel Organizations (FYTO) was founded to bring young French people to Germany to meet and interact with their peers; and the International Student Travel Confederation (ISTC) was established by student leaders for this same purpose.
The Joint Statement of President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev following the Geneva Summit of 1985, read in part: "There should be a greater understanding among our peoples and to this end we will encourage greater travel."
It was 'Ping Pong' diplomacy (Sports Tourism) that paved the way to opening the doors to China during the Nixon Administration in the 1960's.
It was American pianist Van Cliburn (Cultural Tourism)- who began the thawing of the Cold War by winning the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow during Khruschev's reign - and I believe it was the growing exchanges between the United States and Soviet Union, and Europe and the Soviet Union, in the 1960's - 70's and 80's that seeded the process leading to the Geneva Summit between Reagan and Gorbachev.
Is it true that some of the now famous tourism destinations have sprung out of former entertainment spots for troops on leave? Yes - we will have our 3rd Global Summit in one of these cities, Pattaya, Thailand - which was a center for R&R (Rest and Recuperation) for military personnel during the Vietnam War. And can tourism realistically heal wounds in Iraq and Afghanistan? Tourism alone will not heal the wounds of Conflict in Iraq or Iran - but I believe it can contribute to healing the wounds of conflict as part of an overall social - cultural and economic re-vitalization strategy once conditions permit. We have a plenary session at our 3rd African Conference taking place at the Hotel InterContinental, Lusaka, Zambia, February 6-11 that will address the "Role of Tourism, Culture, and Sport in Healing the Wounds of Conflict." Speaking on the panel will be Ministers of Tourism from Sierra Leone, Angola as well as the Director of Tourism for South Africa and a senior government official from Rwanda.
Tourism comes in peace, but it bears the brunt of so many terrorist attacks in recent years, in Kenya, Bali, Egypt. Could it be that some forms of tourism, small-scale, independent, sustainable, eco are more "peaceful" than others such as luxury all-inclusive resorts or uncontrolled mass tourism?
Yes, the attacks you mention were devastating. The loss of life in these instances is tragic, and also unfortunate is the loss of livelihood of so many people in these areas following the attacks/bombings. I was in Bali a year after the bombings and all resorts and hotels still had very low occupancy rates - and there was a very high rate of unemployment - and under-employment.
Small scale tourism by its very nature would be much less likely to be targets by terrorists as it would not get the media attention that the terrorists are looking for.
You argue that each tourist can be an ambassador for peace. This would be wonderful, but how is this possible in practice, if the tourist is to remain within the golden ghetto of an all-inclusive tourism resort. Or even, if he/she ventures out on a visit to an impoverished 3rd world slum - would that instantly bring about peace, rather than his/her own demise? In other words, can a tourist really be an ambassador as an individual, and how?
Clearly, nothing will instantly bring about peace. However, there are trends within the tourism industry that give me hope - that in time Tourism can be a significant contributor to peace.
Cultural Tourism and cultural exchanges are one of the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. This can only help to bring about greater understanding and appreciation among the diverse cultures of the world.
Volunteer Tourism is another rapidly growing segment of the tourism industry - there are currently 5,000 volunteers in Sri Lanka assisting the survivors of the tsunami on this island nation - with no concern as to their religion - or race - or even if they are Tamil Tigers - a group that has been designated a terrorist group. This can only show the compassion and caring that people of have for one another as members of the 'global family.'
Community Tourism is another rapidly growing segment of the industry - bringing travelers off the beaten path into rural areas and villages to experience the hospitality and spirit of the people in a personal way - and bringing sources of income to these rural areas and villages.
And most recently - with a sudden burst of recognition is Pro Poor Tourism - and the role that tourism can play in poverty reduction. There appears to be evidence that when people are gainfully employed - when they have hope for the future - the likelihood that they will be recruited by terrorists is diminished.
And philanthropic tourism is on the rise also demonstrating that tourists care for wildlife, the environment, and the communities that host them.
Another growing trend within the tourism industry - and the area of "sports tourism" is the use of sport in healing the wounds of conflict. Noteworthy in this regard is "Right to Play" founded by an Olympic gold medallist.
Within Sports Tourism - we have the greatest example of all in an event that unites the world - the Olympics - as we witnessed this past summer in Athens as the Olympics after more than 100 years returned to its birthplace. The Olympic Truce is the strongest initiative we have to at least temporarily encourage the cessation of conflict for the short period of time.
All of the above can be grouped into what we might call "Citizen Diplomacy" - and this citizen diplomacy will demonstrate to our leaders what Gandhi has said: "There is no way to peace. Peace is the way."
Referring again to what I mentioned above - I believe it was "Citizen Diplomacy" that in large part paved the way for a Geneva Summit to take place between President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev.
What particularly gives me hope - is the growing phenomenon of youth and student travel. Every 1 in 5 international arrivals is a young person. This is anticipated to grow to 1 in 4 arrivals in the next 3-5 years. The trend of taking a 'gap year' - a year after college graduation - continues to rise, and this trend is now spreading to high school graduates who take a gap year before starting college.
Young people traveling meet their counterparts from other lands- they meet with open minds - and open hearts - learning of other cultures - countries and civilizations. They want to experience different countries and different peoples - to learn about their traditions - culture - and history - and often - to learn their language. They are also increasingly interested in traveling to developing counties of Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and South East Asia. Unlike the title of a recent book - the clash of civilizations - youth travel represents the "meeting of civilizations."
These young people will become the first generation of "Global Citizens' - this is what gives me hope for the future - and a positive answer to your question.
Western common wisdom currently seems to argue that impoverished areas are hotbeds of extremism and that optimistically, tourism can indirectly alleviate that by reducing poverty. Even if/when/where this is true, what happens with some of tourisms by-products such as sexual exploitation of minors or local taboo breaking by tourists, does tourism add to or diffuse existing tensions in some cases and regions for example in Southern Thailand?
There is no question that there are serious issues when tourism is not developed responsibly or conducted responsibly. The World Tourism Organization has developed a comprehensive Code of Conduct for Tourism which has been - and continues to be - broadly distributed. In fact, its first public distribution was at our 3rd Global Conference in Glasgow 1999. The WTO has also set up a "Task Force to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism" which is broadly supported by responsible tour operators, UN Agencies, and others - to combat the sexual exploitation of children.
Regarding 'local taboo breaking' by tourists, again this clearly happens. Tour operators and tour guides need to properly inform tourists of local customs and traditions - and tourists themselves should prepare themselves before traveling to destinations to ensure that they do not offend local populations. More needs to be done regarding the ethics of Host-Guest dynamics.
IIPT has a beautiful "Credo of the Peaceful Traveler" which is increasingly being distributed throughout the world. As well, our Amman Declaration, resulting from our first Global Summit in Amman, Jordan - sets out in two pages the philosophy and principles of Peace through Tourism and can be found on our website: www.iipt.org
Do you feel people listen to your peace through tourism message with more or less attention after the September 11 attacks?
With much more attention. As well, I have increasingly been invited to be a keynote speaker at international conferences since 9/11, and there have been a growing number of interviews by journalists.
How relevant is the Internet for building a culture of peace through Tourism? To what extent does your Organisation nowadays make use of the Internet, which did not exist when you first started?
The internet is clearly an essential communication tool of the 21st Century. It has made possible the realization of Marshall McLuhan's 'Global Village.' For the first time in human history - we are all connected - and that connectedness has increasingly brought about the realization that we are "One Earth One Family".
IIPT makes extensive use of the Internet through Press Releases, in communicating with our several networks, chapters, and Coalition of Partners for World Peace through Tourism - and our newsletter is widely distributed to more than 200,000 travel professionals throughout the world.
We use the internet to promote our conferences and summits and recently - in promoting our Global 'Just a Drop' Appeal in support of the Tsunami survivors which I will discuss further below.
If there was a single piece of advice you would give to travellers so that they promote peace, what would it be?
Please take with you - and practice - our "IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler" when you travel - and remember, by your words and actions, you CAN be an "Ambassador for Peace."
What is IIPT's contribution to the Tsunami Relief effort, and what measures should be taken by all involved parties so that something good can come out of this disaster for the living standards of locals, better tourism, and regional peace?
In the days immediately following the tsunami disaster in South Asia, the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) launched a special 'Just a Drop' fundraising campaign to assist in bringing water to survivors.
The response has been most encouraging. IIPT chapters in the Indian Ocean, Australia, and the Caribbean have each launched campaigns in support of the appeal. In the U.S. and Canada, special appeals have been launched by the IIPT Northwest Chapter (Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) - and on the East Coast in the State of Vermont with the support of the State of Vermont Department of Tourism.
In San Francisco, Joie de Vivre's Hotel Carlton is supporting the special IIPT 'Just a Drop' campaign by donating 10% of the room rate from all reservations booked directly with the hotel. Here at IIPT World Headquarters in Stowe, Vermont, itself a resort community, a campaign is underway with the support of the Stowe Area Association and Stowe Reporter, the community's weekly newspaper. Stowe area resorts, inns, restaurants and retail enterprises, as well as Stowe residents, are responding generously as a demonstration of solidarity with the devastated communities of South Asia. The appeal is also being joined by IIPT's International Student and Youth Leadership Network, IIPT's Global Educators Network, and other IIPT networks, as well as the IIPT Coalition of Partners of more than 30 prestigious international organizations. The World Airline Clubs Association (WACA) and International Federation of Women Travel Organizations have been among the first to respond. (Contributions can be made directly on IIPT's website: www.iipt.org)
Volunteer Initiative is in Initial Stages of Development. We are also organising an assessment team of 12-15 volunteers to visit one of the impacted countries with a view to determining how a long term, coordinated and sustained initiative of volunteers might be most useful. On the ground partners will assist us in meeting with community leaders to identify volunteers might be able to make a contribution on a sustained basis over the next 1-3 years to help in the recovery - rehabilitation and re-development of the selected nations. Areas that volunteers might assist with might be in the context of schools, libraries, medical clinics, community centers, orphanages - and the diverse sectors of the travel and tourism industry. Organizations that would be interested in joining us in this effort are invited to contact me directly through my email.
Is there anything else you would like to say, perhaps on your future projects?
May I take this opportunity to mention that our 3rd IIPT African Conference will take place at the Hotel InterContinental, Lusaka, Zambia, from February 6-11, 2005. Theme of the Conference is: Tourism - Pathway to a Peaceful and Prosperous Africa. Its aim is to develop a 21st Century Vision for African Tourism; the key strategies and partners required to achieve this vision; and the actions steps to begin the journey. In recognition of the historical importance of this conference, President Mwanawassa has declared the week of the Conference: "National Peace through Tourism Week."
The Conference is being organized by IIPT in partnership with the Africa Travel Association (ATA), and hosted by the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources. It is under the patronage of His Excellency Mr. Levy Patrick Mwanawassa, President, Republic of Zambia. Persons wishing to learn more about the conference can visit our website www.iipt.org where they can also find a registration form. More Information is also available from our January newsletter featuring the Conference which can be accessed at http://www.iipt.org/newsletter/IIPTJan2005.html
We have also announced center-stage at World Travel Market this past November, the 3rd Global Summit on Peace through Tourism. The Summit will be held at the award winning Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, Thailand, October 2-5, 2005. Theme of the Summit is: One Earth One Family: Travel and Tourism - Serving a Higher Purpose.
We look forward to participation by your readers.
Thank you very much
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