Peace institute event to ponder tourisms impact on terrorism


NEW YORK -- When former U.S. Marine captain and business analyst Louis DAmore founded the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) in 1986, the question he most often received was, What does peace have to do with tourism?

Now, he is getting the same question about the relationship between tourism and terrorism. His answer is much the same.

After the bombings in London and Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, this summer, the IIPT shifted the focus of its upcoming Third Global Summit on Peace through Tourism in Pattaya, Thailand, Oct. 2 to 5, to become more of a debate on the tourism industrys strategic response to international terrorism.

The association added a major session on the experiences of destinations that have successfully recovered from terrorist attacks and the strategies they used.

The session will be moderated by H.E. Akel Biltaji, special advisor to King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The IIPT intends to produce a tangible result by the end of the conference, a paper titled A 21st Century Agenda for Peace Through Tourism that addresses key issues of the time.

To DAmore the shift is natural.

When the IIPT was formed in 1986, it was in response to the global issues of the time, DAmore said, the growing tensions between East and West, the deteriorating environment, the growing gap between the have and have-not regions of the world and the growth of terrorism.

As a consultant, DAmore had been tracking the effect of terrorism on tourism, but rather than looking at the effect of these global issues on tourism, I wanted to see how we could flip it around and see how tourism can become a positive force.

In answer to the question, DAmore quoted Bill Clinton: 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 dehumanization and to death.

The key, DAmore said, is coming to know the other.

Since the 1980s, problems have only gotten worse, DAmore said, but tourism has made tangible contributions to the understanding between different countries and peoples.

The various summits and conferences held by the IIPT have become forums for networking, planning and dialogue among senior executives from all sectors of the travel and tourism industry, U.N. agencies, donor agencies, nongovernmental organizations , leading educators, policy analysts, researchers and entrepreneurs.

In spite of its aspirations, the mood of the IIPT conferences is distinctly pragmatic.

Tourism is more than simply a revenue generator for private enterprise, DAmore said. It is only recently that governments have come to recognize that tourism contributes to GNP, foreign exchange earnings, job creation and investment.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has been gathering information on this, and organizations like the World Bank are finally realizing how important tourism is to developing countries as a vehicle of poverty reduction.

The agenda will include sessions about tourisms contribution to poverty reduction, indigenous tourism, volunteer and philanthropic tourism, destination crisis management and preparedness, sustainable destination management, the role of media and linkage of tourism, culture, heritage and the arts.

To contact reporter David Cogswell, send e-mail to [email protected].

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