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Travel and tourism a driver for peace - report

May 12 2016 18:21
Carin Smith

Cape Town - An open and sustainable tourism sector can be an important factor for the levels of peace in a country.

This is according to a new research report entitled Tourism as a Driver for Peace, which was launched by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). It was conducted by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP) and quantifies, for the first time, the links between tourism and peace.

"While Travel & Tourism has often been recognised for its ability to drive peace, security and understanding, to date, there has been little empirical evidence to support this link," according to the WTTC.

The report found that countries with more open and sustainable tourism sectors have higher levels of peace and lower levels of conflict and violence.

"Increases in tourism sustainability can lead to improvements in the functioning of governments. As governments respond to tourism demand and create a welcoming environment for further tourism expansion, this ultimately increases future peace," the report states.

It found that over the last decade the world has become increasingly unequal in terms of its levels of peacefulness, with the most peaceful countries enjoying increasing levels of peace and prosperity, while the least peaceful countries are facing greater levels of violence and conflict.  

The research shows that the more sustainable and open a country’s tourism sector, the less peace levels have declined. Even in conflict-affected countries, all of which saw their levels of peace drop in the period between 2008 and 2015, those that had more open and sustainable tourism saw a significantly lower drop in peace than countries with less sustainable tourism sectors.

“Travel and tourism’s economic impact is now well established and widely recognised, and governments around the world are increasingly looking to the sector to provide livelihoods and jobs, and drive economic development," said David Scowsill, president and CEO of WTTC.

"However, the benefits of tourism as a force for good, its ability to bring peace, security and understanding have been harder to quantify. I am delighted that this research now shows that travel and tourism does have a strong link to creating peaceful societies."

In a world of increasing risk and security concerns, he regards this research as compelling evidence of why governments should continue to focus on tourism development for the good of their people, and make policy decisions that balance the safety of their citizens with the continued facilitation of travel for business and leisure purposes.

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chair of IEP, said the data shows how tourism and peace can support each other and increase societal resilience, prosperity and peace in the long term.

"This also shows how the tourism sector is one of the key areas in which the private sector can play a positive and tangible role in contributing to global peace," said Killelea.



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