A discussion moderated by Louis D’Amore, President and Founder, International Institute of Peace Through Tourism

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What potential lies in tourism industry?
Of all the industries most affected by violence, tourism stands out. By some estimations, the tourism industry is also the world’s largest industry and one whose very identity is based on cultural exchange. This session focuses on the experiences drawn form this vanguard industry.

Perspectives from an Industry most Vested in Peace: The Tourism Industry
Watch the three videos and join the discussion with presenters below.

Andrea Cahn, Director of Organizational Development, Special Olympics, and Ginger Smith, Chair and Clinical Professor, Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management

"World Peace and Sustainable Tourism Development: Promoting Dialogue through the Commerce of Sports - The Case of the Special Olympics"(8:59)

Stuart Levy, Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism Studies, and
Don Hawkins, Professor of Tourism Policy, Department of Tourism Studies, George Washington University

"Peace Through Tourism: Commerce Based Approaches and Practices"(6:32)

Elliott Bloom, Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, Travelport

“CSR in an Economic Downturn: The Sustainable Business Model Imperative” (4:16)


Carol Erickson, Executive Director, Rural Education and Development (READ) Global



Discussion: Perspectives from an Industry most Vested in Peace: The Tourism Industry
1. Are there ways in which tourism can contribute to the global economic recovery?
2. How can tourism contribute to the economic recovery of developing nations?
3. Is there potential for tourism to contribute to improved relations between Iran and the West.
4. What possible roles are there for tourism in areas of ‘tension’ – such as Kashimr, North and South Cyprus, and the Middle East. Are there any specific examples of tourism helping to improve mutual understanding between cultures in areas of ‘tension.’
5. Is there a potential role for tourism in the recovery of Iraq?
6. What can be done to mitigate/compensate for CO2 and other green-house gas emissions resulting from tourism?

Views: 377

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Everyone,

I am pleased to welcome back Louis D’Amore, President and Founder of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism to moderate this week's session. Lou's experience in this area more than merits having him lead us a second time and given the unique experiences of tourism and its impact on peace, I look forward to a great week of discussions!


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,
It’s a pleasure to be with you again as Moderator of week 8, “Perspectives from the Tourism Industry.” I anticipate that we will have an excellent discussion stimulated by the videos and papers from Andrea Cahn together with Ginger Smith and Sybil Ford; Stuart Levy together with Don Hawkins; Elliot Bloom; and Carol Erickson.

Tourism has already received considerable attention in the previous sessions, and we now have an opportunity to focus fully on the travel and tourism industry which I believe to be the central pillar of a “Peace through Commerce” movement.

Your responses to the above questions and comments on how tourism can contribute to international understanding. and cooperation among nations; protection of the environment and preservation of biodiversity; enhancement of cultures and valuing heritage; sustainable development; poverty reduction; reconciliation and healing wounds of conflict – and any other dimensions of ‘Peace through Tourism’ are invited. I look forward to your comments, observations and insights.

Louis D'Amore
Founder and President
International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)
Having spent 4 weeks in Sri Lanka recently, I am interested in point 4 of the discussion-- identifying ways in which tourism can be a helpful instrument for rebuilding local economies as more peaceful conditions exist in some part of a country but tensions and negative publicity prevail.

The Eastern, Uva, and North Central Provinces of Sri Lanka, referred to by the government as post conflict areas, have witnessed a disproportionate lack of economic development when compared with the rest of country, due in large part to the civil conflict in these areas and the tsunami of 2004. These combined events have led to displacement of families, damage to natural resources and man-made infrastructure and disruption in the livelihoods of the approximately 1.5 million inhabitants (Eastern Revival Programme, 2008). The agricultural sector in the targeted region is responsible for a majority of the employment in the area and yet growth in this industry has stagnated. The ability for the people living in this region to improve their livelihoods over the long term is largely dependent on their ability to increase their productivity and diversify their sources of income (USAID, 2008).

The development of non-agricultural small and micro enterprises in the targeted region is critical to sustain the local economy. Tourism offers an ideal structure through which these enterprises can develop and flourish. While tourism has a history of success in the coastal areas of the targeted region, the conflict coupled with the effects of the tsunami, have had a negative collective impact on the ability for this industry to be financially viable (USAID, 2008). However, this region has the benefit of rich biodiversity, abundant natural resources, a number of historically significant cultural sites and beautiful beaches which together have the potential to fuel a vibrant tourism industry. The development and implementation of a sustainable tourism plan is needed in order to create an approach to income generation for the region that leverages the existing community structure, while preserving natural and cultural resources.

Any ideas (best practices, benchmarks, cases, etc.) that participants in this conference have would be most appreciated
I'm particularly interested in question #3 above - does tourism contribute to peace between Iran and the West?

Many consider track two diplomacy, or non-governmental "people-to-people" relations, as a way to reduce intergroup prejudices. Recent research supports this claim (Pettigrew and Tropp 2006), although intergroup social contact in educational, work and recreational settings were found to be significantly more effective in lessening prejudice than travel.

At the same time, travel might be perceived as lending credibility to a government which we may fundamentally disagree with or may not even consider legitimate. For example, Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi opposes international travel to Myanmar, and has stated that tourism is "a form of moral support for them (Myanmar military leaders) because it makes the military authorities think that the international community is not opposed to the human rights violations which they are committing all the time. They seem to look on the influx of tourists as proof that their actions are accepted by the world." (Aung San Suu Kyi 1999)

From an economic perspective, tourism can provide much needed income for the most disadvantaged members of society. As poverty breeds violence and fundamentalism, higher standards of living can promote more moderate and peaceful societies. However, tourism revenues do contibute to government coffers, which only strengthen ruling regimes.

Now, for your thoughts and comments:

Given that increased travel from Western countries to Iran would likely result in both positive and negative impacts related to peace, which criteria would you use to determine whether you would travel to Iran? Beyond personal safety issues, would you apply the same criteria to other countries, such as Myanmar, North Korea, or Sudan? Why or why not?

Below are two initial criteria I would use in deciding whether to travel to a destination in conflict:

Manner of Travel
I would be much more interested and likely to travel to the destinations mentioned above if (a) I was able to maximize people-to-people contact, (b) my travel expenditures were going directly to local residents and business owners, and (c) no (or extremely little) spending would end up in the hands of government. This type of travel would likely be independent and off-the-beaten track, involving homestays. I would also perform substantial pre-trip research to find and support destinations, local guides, accommodations, and attractions which would be harmonious with my ethics and values.

Personal Relationship to the Country
As an American Jew, I have less tolerance for the Iranian government whose leader has repeatedly denied the existence of the Holocaust and threatens the continued existence of Israel. By traveling to Iran, I would certainly enjoy people-to-people contact which could result in increased understanding between Muslims and Jews -- as well as Americans and Iranians -- on an individual level. However, does this outweigh the revenue I am contributing to a government which I consider unacceptable in its behavior and a government which represents a majority of the residents whose country I choose to visit? While I still struggle with ethical dilemmas regarding travel to other countries, I am less averse to travel to Cuba, China or even Myanmar due to less of a personal connection with the issues at stake.

Articles/Links of Interest:

Intergroup Contact:


Pro-poor tourism:

Travel for understanding:
Many thanks for kicking off the discussion and for your insightful comments regarding Question 3 -
Is there potential for tourism to contribute to improved relations between Iran and the West?

Your comments go to the heart of the two key issues inherent in the question – i.e. the potential positive benefits of people to people diplomacy which were a key factor in opening China during the Nixon Administration (ping pong diplomacy) – and in the thawing of the Cold War in the 1980’s; and on the other hand, personal travel to a country whose policies we are not in agreement with being “a form of moral support” to that government – and also a source of government revenues.

In September 2000, then President of Iran, Mohammed Khatami, speaking at the United Nations, proposed a “Dialogue Among Civilizations” stating in part – “In order to provide natural unity and harmony in form and content for global culture and to prevent anarchy and chaos, all concerned parties should engage in a dialogue in which they can exchange knowledge, experience and understanding in diverse areas of culture and civilization.
…….."We ought to learn from the world's past experience, especially from the tremendous human catastrophes that took place in the twentieth century. We ought to critically examine the prevalent master paradigm in international relations based on the discourse of power and the glorification of might……..

"From an ethical perspective, the paradigm of dialogue among civilizations requires that we give up the will for power and instead appeal to the will for empathy and compassion……………….

"Dialogue among civilizations could also mean a deliberate dialogue among representative members of various civilizations such as scholars, artists and philosophers from disparate civilizational domains…………………..

"Another goal of dialogue among cultures and civilizations is to recognize and to understand not only the cultures and civilizations of others, but also one's own. One ought to take a step away from oneself in order to get an enhanced perspective on oneself. Seeing in essence requires taking distance in perspective, and distance provides the grounds for immersion into another existential dimension."

He closed by saying - "Let us hope that enmity and oppression will end and that the clamour of love for truth, justice and human dignity will prevail."

The following year, 2001 was announced as the United Nations Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations.

With the release today of Roxana Saberi, and President Obama’s Iranian New Year message this past March – a message of “new beginnings” with an emphasis on diplomacy, renewed exchanges, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce, grounded in a “new era of mutual respect,” and a message “reminding us of the common humanity that binds us together” –

Is there a role for ‘Peace through Commerce’ – and more specifically, ‘Peace through Tourism’ in moving forward towards a harmonious and positive relationship between Iran and the West?

Louis D'Amore

In relation to Question 3, "Is there potential for tourism to contribute to improved relations between Iran and the West?", I am glad that you have brought a 'civilisational' perspective into this discussion thread by referring to the then President of Iran, Mohammed Khatami's 2000 UN address and his call to engage in civilisationational dialogue.

The "clash of civilisations" (Huntington,: 1993, 1996) that is evident today, will require an understanding of a more profound nature of the civilisational engagement that must ensue between Iran and the US (or between non-Muslim and Muslim nation in any other part of the world) if our endeavour to bring about peace through tourism is to provide solutions that are not just superficial.

Only one people has ever met the ancient Romans on equal terms in open battle. These were the Persians. They first challenged Rome at the very height of her power; and throughout 4 centuries, the greatest forces of Rome were repeatedly and vainly hurled against Persia. No Persian king was ever led captive in a Roman triumph. Battles were won as often by one nation as by the other but Rome paid Persia large sums of money for peace so often that the Roman populace complained bitterly, declaring they were become mere tributaries of Persia.

Further back into history, some 2,300 years ago, a man we know as ALEXANDER THE GREAT (356 - 323 BC) first thought of and acted upon a vision of civilisational engagement. Conquering the then mighty Persian Empire was not sufficient, he sought to unite the eastern and western ancient worlds. And he attempted to do this by the institution of marriage - he married the deposed Persian King's daughter and also made his officers marry Persian women. However he failed in realising his dream because the pride of the Macedonians in their own culture stood in the way of any real civilisational integration and he did not live long enough to see through his vision. A US-Iran engagement through tourism would therefore, in my opinion, constitute the "new beginnings" of an "old vision."

If year 2001 was announced as the United Nation's Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations, then "peace through commerce", particularly through tourism between the US and the Iranian government, businesses and the Iranian people, would be following through with an ancient engagement between a relatively young western nation and an ancient one that had conquered many nations but which was itself finally conquered by Islam and became a part of the Islamic civilisation.

I noted that following the unfortunate events of Sept. 11, Iran was the only islamic nation that spoke up clearly, coherently and consistently against the onslaught of the tide of world opinion, and if one follows alternative news media, one discovers an interesting alternative perspective. It may therefore be observed, nucleur issue aside, Iran remains today, centrally relevant in (1) the islamic phenomenon and in (2) the choice between civilisational engagement or civilisational conflict.

“New beginnings” through commercial partnerships based on a “new era of mutual respect,” must therefore be sought for the sake of the "common humanity". I shall throw my lot behind peace through tourism and travel to Iran for a conference in December this year, God Willing. :-)

Marilyn Ong Siew Ai
University Malaysia Sarawak
East Malaysia
Thank you for your illuminating historical perspective on Question 3 regarding improved relations between Iran and the West. It is also noteworthy that since 2001 Iran has disbursed approximately US$ 500 million in aid to Afghanistan and is one of the most effective donors in the country, delivering 93 percent of the aid it has pledged.

President Obama’s offer of a “new beginning” in his speech to the Iranian people on March 20 is taking on concrete measures as the U.S. calls for Iran to be a key player in a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. And at a Summit in the Hague in early April Iranian officials offered to cooperate with the United States on developing and reconstructing Afghanistan.

Iran has longstanding political, cultural, and economic interests in Afghanistan and it is in their interest to have stability and prosperity with its eastern neighbor. Perhaps these mutual interests can be the catalyst for “new beginnings” between Iran and the West – and if so, Peace through Tourism – and Commerce can provide a further stimulus to these new beginnings and a vital renewal of the ancient engagement to which you refer.

Louis D’Amore

Thank you for the information that serves to elaborate on the nature of President Obama's offer of a "new (or renewed) beginning." Only a president with Obama's worldview as well as multi-faith and multi-cultural wisdom, would be able to come up with an inclusive solution involving non-Muslim and Muslim nations for the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan.

May I be allowed to elaborate on what I meant by the need for "an understanding of a more profound nature of the civilisational engagement that must ensue between Iran and the US (or between non-Muslim and Muslim nations in any other part of the world) if our endeavour to bring about peace through tourism is to provide solutions that are not just superficial"?

My purpose of providing a civilisational perspective to our discussion was to underscore the need to lay the foundation of a commercial relationship based on "mutual respect." Ignorance will feed prejudice and contempt and nullify good economic factors and business considerations for a US-Iran business partnership in tourism.

In addition, theres the need for US-Iranian business relationships and transactions to recognise the SHARED VALUES of the People of the Book (Jews, Christains & Muslims) or "the people of the Middle Way" (Qur'an) rather than their DIVERGENT HUMAN INTERPRETATIONS of their books of Divine Revelation which have led them to believe they belong to different religions.

The initiative of HRH Duke of Ediburgh, HRH Cown Prince El Hassan of Jordan and Sir Evelyn Rothschild in the mid 1980s led to convening of thinkers of the People of the Book and saw its culmination in the Interfaith Code of Ethics. Please refer to: http://astro.temple.edu/~dialogue/Codes/cmj_codes.htm
and http://institute.jesdialogue.org/fileadmin/bizcourse/INTERFAITHDECL...

The key ethical principles stated in the Code are : stewardship, honesty, mutual trust and justice. These are not only the shared values of the People of the Book - they are also UNIVERSAL VALUES for humankind. This ethical code should act as an ethical business guide in developing US-Iran tourism (non-muslim and muslim nations) to help achieve business financial and non-financial bottomlines.

Of the 4 values, I am of the opinion that 'MUTUAL RESPECT" must be the cornerstone of the US-Iran business partnership if "peace through commerce" is to be achieved.

Poll's input on the Bhuddist ethical principles of "the Middle Path" is duly noted and appreciated. It should be the ethical guide for business partnerships for peace in the East which is dominated by Confucianist-Bhuddist cultures.

It is to be noted that both religion and philosophy exhorts the centrist ethical position.

Marilyn Ong Siew Ai
Dear Stuart,

With respect to question no. 3 -, I think we can make serious positive steps forward to promote peace and prosperity once the most educated layers of our societies, i.e. people such as yourself, would put religion behind our common humanity. Politicians use religion to rule, countries you have addressed are no exception and politicians take advantage of societies' ignorance in this respect as Carte Blanche for them to serve their own special interests. When being a Jew or Muslim or Christian comes before our common humanity that means we, as educated people, have got defeated and been brain-washed by ugly politics and the bloody ideologies that fools the masses.

For the record, any time you wanted to visit Iran you will be my friends' and family's guest. Knowing your appetite for tasty food, the money you would spend in Iran goes to the pockets of private restaurant owners serving you the best food one can dream of. And please let's not try to "optimize life" like an entirely academic man; of course some of your money might go to some government entity but also hopefully a visitor would be a lot more open minded after such trip to the reality of a very cultured nation and pros are much larger than the cons. If it were not because of security issues I would have definitely visited Israel and got to learn much more about Israelis and their lives, which in essence would not be different from that of the Palestinians or people in Washington DC. The most important part of this matter is a humanitarian issue not an ideological one, in my view that is the biggest reason why the politicians and religious leaders seriously struggle to solve it.

Nima Ghazi.
Dear Nima,
Thank you for your contribution to the dialogue. I was in Iran this past November and can attest to the genuine friendliness and hospitality of the Iranian people - and the richness of your culture. I look forward to visiting again.
Louis D'Amore
1.Yes, tourism can help in the global economic recovery.For one it is the largest industry in the world and logically if the world economy is to recover, its input is indispensable.It could help this by:Designing specific "recession beating packages" by which i mean discounted packages,retaining jobs by introducing shifts for example,opening up new markets and opportunities, stimulating the production and consumption of food, services and even promoting fashions.The events of 9/11 dramatized the centrality of this industry and by now nobody should be in doubt of its capacity,role and potential.

2.For the recovery of developing countries, tourism is crucial.A number of countries these days almost entirely depend on it for economic surivival, good examples being Gambia,Phillipines,Kenya,South Africa,Bahamas,Egypt and Tanzania,yet the tourists they attract cannot even constitute a fraction of the now estimated 82 million tourists who visit France annually and another close to 50 million who go to neighbouring Switzerland every year.The US State of Hawaii alone pulls in close to 11 million holiday makers every year.The question is:What if these numbers were reversed, or at least evened out, so that Gambia receives the 50 million guests, small as it is? I can argue here that it will not need any Development aid of any form for its survival,even if part of that money goes to waste.

3.Yes, tourism can improve relations between Iran and the West.Iran is a well known ancient civilization anchored on Zeroastarism and the Persian heritage.The United States is a well established liberal democracy.One of the reasons why tensions persist between the two countries is the fact that they dont relate at both formal and informal levels.They talk at each other and not to each other.If cross country tourism packages can be fashioned between them, then it is conceivable that a situation similar to the Cuba-US Relations can develop where a rapproachment of sorts is reached bacause of pressures and lobbying from friends and relatives across the boarders in the two countries.The time for that detente is now.

4.In conflict flashpoints like Kashmir,Cyprus and the Middle East, tourism would come in as a handy product for peace.It mediates peace powerfully through cultural exchanges.For example, Jerusalem is a highly contentious city.Muslims,Christians and Jews all lay claim to it on religious and historical grounds.If one of its artefacts can be developed and marketed as an open city for all religions to come and tour, then it is possible that intermmarriages would ensue,dialogue and respect based on the apprecition of other peoples' cultures.I would cite it as an example as well as the mountanious jungles of Eastern Congo and Rwanda where a rare species of mountain guerillas reisides.Both the Rwandese and Ugandan governments have realized that the Ruwenzori mountains and Bwindi national park are a common resource that they share across the boarder and with the assiastance of the UN,Militias from all the belligerent groups have been convinced and sometimes paid money to spare the guerrilas during armed confrontations.Since, it is a shared resources, both the two governments and the cocktail of rebel movements there, with the exception of a few rogue ones like the notirious LRA, have moved closer to peace partly because of this industry.The volatile Swat valley of Pakistan is the Switzerland of Pakistan.If it were peaceful, the tourism industry would be the leading economic activity in the valley and possibly deflect armed insurgents and also provide jobs to the sometimes hapless suicide bombers.

5.Of course there exists tremendous potential for using tourism for the recovery of Iraq.In fact, Iraq should be the biggest magnet of tourists in the world.It has unique heritages:The famed Hamurabi civilization, ancient Mesopotamian agriculture,the beatiful Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that slice through the violent city of Baghdad,the second largest proven oil deposists in the world, and so on.In fact, one needs just look back at the tragic events in 2003.When the US invaded Iraq, ostensibly to liberate it, the chaos that ensued after the fall of Baghdad resulted in the wanton looting and destrcution of the city's museum.Some of those precious artefacts were stolen and smuggled out of the country and sold into the black market and have not been recovered since.A number were UNESCO sites and UNESCO has mounted a global campaign to recover them including offering monetary prices for return.Some are being reconstructed.Prior to that, years of sanctions had also led to dereliction of the industry.That is how potential the Iraqi tourism industry is and if Iraq can fully return to peace, then it would rival,if not ecclipse France as the largest destination of tourists in the world. This would generate sufficient resources for the country and the net effect of that would be accelerated national reconcilliation between the Sunni,Shiites and Kurds and all groups in Iraq as they will all have a livehood to defend:Tourism,the goose that lays the golden eggs.

6.To mitigate CO2 and other green house gases resulting from tourism, a number of measures should be adopted:Carbon trading,higher taxation to the biggest emmitters,shift and substitution of dirty with clean energy sources,adopting eco-tourism principles,gazzeting and protecting vulnerable resources like species, and sites,capacity building initiatives and legislation to curb all tendencies of unsustainable tourism.

Dear Solomon,
Thank you for your important contribution to the dialogue – and insightful comments on each of the questions.

As you suggest in your response to 1 – tourism has proven to be a resilient industry and will again probably be on the leading edge of the recovery. Particularly regarding 2 – developing countries. As you suggest there are many nations that are dependent on tourism, particularly least developed nations for which tourism is the main source of foreign exchange. Tourism’s transfer of wealth from developed to developing nations is greater than all foreign aid combined.

Regarding 3 - Iran is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations dating back to 4,000 BC. A visit to Iran exposes one to the treasures of this ancient civilization – its arts, culture, history, ancient treasures such as Persepolis, and particularly its youthful population – two thirds of which is under 25 and eager to reach out to visitors.

Regarding 4, Your citing of the mountain gorillas where the borders of Eastern Congo – Rwanda – and Uganda come together – is an excellent example of the collaboration that occurs in protecting vital tourism assets. In the Middle East – tourism is the one industry mentioned in the Peace Accord between Jordan and Israel – and as well the Oslo Peace Accord between Palestine and Israel. And as you point out in 5– Iraq is another ancient civilization with amazing tourism assets – including Ur – the Birthplace of Abraham, Patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – a destination that gives one pause to reflect on the fact that Jews, Christians and Muslims are all brothers and sisters as sons and daughters of Abraham.

And thank you for kicking off the discussion regarding 6 – on the mitigation of CO2 and other green house gases. As tourism is dependent on a healthy environment – as well as peace – the travel and tourism industry should be a leader in combatting global warming and climate change in its own enlightened self-internest.

Louis D’Amore


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