A discussion moderated by Timothy Marshall, Chairman, International Institute of Peace Through Tourism

Visit Biographies for more about presenters

How can business handle the key issues in conflict zones?
This session focuses on flashpoint issues that arise in conflict sensitive zones. While some issues are common in any business settings, certain issues recur that businesses must address as part of their overall strategic focus.

Presentations:
Key Issues in Doing Business in Conflict Zones
Watch the three videos and join the discussion with presenters below.

Igor Abramov, Counsel, Heenan Blaikie LLP

"Building Peace in Fragile States: Building Trust is Essential for Effective Public-Private Partnerships"(5:48)

Don Mayer, Professor of Business Ethics and Legal Studies, University of Denver

"Peace Through Commerce and Private Militaries"(3:36)

Tara Radin, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania

"Justice and Reconciliation in Post-Conflict Markets"(6:10)


Working Papers




Discussion: How can business mitigate the key issues in conflict zones?

- While some issues are common in any business settings, which issues recur that businesses can address as part of their overall strategic focus?

Views: 499

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Everyone,

This week we look again at issues of Doing Business in Conflict Zones. Throughout the eConference, tourism has come up again and again as an industry with a particular interest in and history in promoting peace. Our moderator this week has been immersed in exactly this dimension of tourism for a long time. Timothy Marshall is the Chairman of the Board of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism. His knowledge about these issues is deep and he brings a tremendous, engaging, spiritual commitment to this topic that inspires everyone he touches. I am delighted to having Timothy lead this week's theme.


Tim


Timothy L. Fort, PhD, JD
Exec. Director, Institute for Corporate Responsibility Lindner-Gambal Professor of Business Ethics George Washington University School of Business Professorial Lecturer, George Washington Law School

Hi Everyone,

If there is someone who should be credited for being there "at the beginning" of the formulation of how specific business practices can contribute to peace, it would be Lou D'Amore. Lou is the founder and President of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism. Lou is going to moderate the first few days of this week's session before passing the baton to IIPT's Chair of the Board, Tim Marshall. I'm delighted to welcome Lou to these week's discussion.

Tim

Timothy L. Fort, PhD, JD
Exec. Director, Institute for Corporate Responsibility
Lindner-Gambal Professor of Business Ethics
George Washington University School of Business
Professorial Lecturer, George Washington Law School
Hello Everyone,
I am most pleased to be moderating the start of week 6 "Doing Business in Conflict Zones." We have excellent presentations by Igor Abramov, Counsel, Heenan Blakie, LLP; Don Mayor, University of Denver; and Tara Radin, Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania; as well as recently added videos featuring Mark Levine and a second on Tourism in Sierre Leone - an exemplary success model of tourism's contribution to economic recovery following conflict.
We look forward to your comments, observations, and questions.
Louis D'Amore
Founder and President
Intenational Institute for Peace through Tourism
It is truly fascinating to see what a difference tourism can make in a hostile environment's road to recovery. After watching the "Tourism in Sierra Leone" video, I found myself comparing Sierra Leone to destinations I had been considering for travel after graduation! There is a lot to be said about their transition when you can see a video and imagine that nothing had ever run them off track.
Going back to Tara Radin's second point on transition economies about how people experience conflicting values-the past and those they are aspiring towards- I think of Sierra Leone. The tone of voice and pride in what they have to offer leads me to believe that they are overcoming those conflicts in values. I believe that having that new found set of values can lead to an increase in an entire society's confidence--they can say with pride what amazing things they have to offer, which will ultimately draw tourists to it. More tourists for areas in post-conflict means an increase in and replacing of stakeholders.

I'm thankful that I've had the chance to see what an impact tourism can make in an area like Sierra Leone, and I apologize if this has been addressed in one of the videos already, but I am curious as to what kind of timeline is appropriate for something like this to be affective. Say I want people to visit a post-war area and I am concerned about their willingness to go. Is the idea to try and turn the area's image around as quickly as possible so to attract people to visit, or is it something that needs to happen over a prolonged period of time as people slowly decide to visit on their own? I understand that nothing like this happens overnight, but I was hoping someone might be able to shed more light on the concept of what needs to happen outside the area in conflict to "brand" it as a vacation destination.

Thank you!!
Kristen Simpson
Kristen Simpson and Michael William Becker have raised some interesting questions:
How to improve the image of a country that has recently experienced conflict and to
“brand” it as a vacation/tourist destination?

How to overcome the negative influence of travel advisories?

How to deal with the lack of adequate transportation to and within the area – and the
general lack of infrastructure?

Do any of you have examples of how any one – or each of the above obstacles have been overcome.
Your comments and observations are welcome.

Louis D'Amore
Moderator
Obviously one very current example of this problem is the Swine Flu outbreak and its affect on Mexico's tourism industry, and its economy as a whole. Travel advisories are in place in the US, Canada and other countries advising against any travel to Mexico, which obviously is a serious problem for the country.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-mexico-markets28-2009apr28,0,...

The flu outbreak has caused a devaluation of the peso, and a slump in the Mexican stock market. During a crisis such as this it is very difficult to stem the negative effects that travel advisories have on a country. I anticipate that once the outbreak resolves, the industry will recover quite well and people will return to Mexico.
David,
Thank you for your important contribution to this week's dialogue. Yes, this is a serious problem affecting tourism to Mexico - and the Mexican economy generally. In this instance, I would suggest that the Travel Advisory is justified to prevent the spread of the Swine Flu.

I agree with you - that once the outbreak is resolved, the industry will recover as demonstrated on numerous occasions that tourism is a resilient industry. Of equal significance at this time in Mexico - is the drug war violence that has been in the news these past several months.
I agree that Mexico's economy and tourism industry will rebound but it will not be without hard work and dedication. As demonstrated by Canada during the SARS outbreak, it is very feasible to help build back a country's image by ensuring that the problem will be prevented in the future and that the government is doing all it can to help deal with the current crisis.

In regards to the war on drug violence in Mexico I feel as though it will not take as much work to build up tourist's confidence to return to the country. When the crisis was first broadcasted on the news, it caused a slight fear of travel. However, this fear was not nearly as great as the one brought about by swine flu, in my opinion due to travelers greater perceived fear of this disease having a direct effect on them as opposed to the ongoing drug wars.
I agree that the Mexican tourism industry has the ability to fully recover after the Flu outbreak and drug war fizzle out. However, I do question at what point an area’s tourism value is completely diminished? (That is if an area’s tourism value can be completely diminished). Both recent and historical events have shown that no matter how tarnished a destination may be, profits from tourism remain. For example, despite being the location of 1.1 million genocidal deaths, Nazi Concentration camp Auschwitz is a major tourist destination in Germany. It seems that even after a location is tarnished it often takes on historical significance.

Is there any example or reason why of a destination’s tourism value would completely diminish or does history always provide demand?
While I agree that tourism can be one important industry that is vital to reviving conflict zones, I feel that there is still tremendous reticence for most individuals and organizations to travel to these areas. Most are discouraged by the travel advisories by the U.S State Department as well as by the lack of effective and reliable transportation to and within these areas. Additionally, these negative perceptions about these zones can continue well after conflict has ended, further hindering the ability of tourism to help revitalize these areas.

With all these hindrances, what can we do to encourage people to travel to some of the most interesting yet conflict-ridden areas of our world? Is it the role of business (the tourism industry specifically) to help build infrastructure within these areas that would help promote the development of tourism, even if significant tourism in these conflict zones might not happen for years or decades?
I agree. Tourism cannot change the negative cycle of an areas condition. It can be part of the solution but there must be many other factors involved. Government backed programs to make an area safer as well as possible military action need to help secure the lands before tourisms can be effective.
Those who are the first movers and adventurists will not follow American advisories for traveling. However in order for tourism to be effective it has to draw more than the niche market of explorists. Therefore it (tourism) alone can only do so much.
William and Brandon,
Many thanks to each of you for your important contribution to this discussion. There is indeed growing recognition for the need of public - private sector partnerships not only to stimulate economic development in areas that have experienced conflict - and but generally in meeting the difficult challenges of the 21st Century. There is a need in these situations for comprehensive planning and setting of priorities - with the federal government of the country - donor agencies such a UNDP, US AID and others - working together in restoring the nation's infrastrastructure and working towards a favoable investment climate that will attract international investors. The benefit of establishing tourism as a priority - is that the same infrastructure necessary for touirsm - e.g. transporatation to and within the country, as mentioned by William - hotels, financial institutions including ATM's - communication systems - are the same things necessary for business generally - and therefore to attract investments. Working on improving the nation's image is not only important for tourism - but for business as well.

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