Can tourism really bring peace?
Dr. Iain Corness
Yes, tourism can bring peace, if you listen to the
message being broadcast loudly by Louis D’Amore, the quietly spoken
president of the IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism).
D’Amore was present in Pattaya for the 3rd Global
Summit on Peace through Tourism, with the theme being One Earth, One Family,
Travel and Tourism serving a Higher Purpose. After the summit, I was able to
sit down with the man at the helm to discuss his concepts.
D’Amore, the quietly spoken president of the IIPT (International Institute
for Peace through Tourism).
The background to the entire movement came from a study
on the future of tourism, carried out by D’Amore 30 years ago for the
Canadian government, monitoring the trends with implications on tourism.
This was then expanded to become a global viewpoint, rather than an insular
Canadian one, which had to take on board the growth in terrorism. “The
future didn’t look too good,” agreed D’Amore, “so we began to look
for how the world’s largest industry could be an influence for good.”
By 1986 terrorism was beginning to peak and tourism slid
by 33 percent. There was certainly a nexus between the two, but how was the
IIPT going to reverse the trend?
In an attempt to bring up as many concepts and plans of
action as possible, the first global conference was held in Vancouver in
1988, with 800 registrants from 67 countries attending, listening to 200
papers and video messages from ex-US President Ronald Reagan and the late
Pope John Paul II.
While this obviously did not bring a halt to terrorism,
D’Amore felt that it did “create a meeting place for people, and be
validated by one another.” The aim was to also create networks and a
coalition of partners committed to the concept of tourism as a global peace
industry. “Make things happen,” said D’Amore.
D’Amore, members of the delegation and local Pattayans gather at the new
IIPT Peace Park.
Unfortunately, what was really happening was an
escalation of terrorism, despite the rhetoric and more conferences and
summits, no matter how many organizations and individuals were called to the
fold. Obviously the terrorists were not in attendance.
D’Amore understands all this and is looking at
addressing the root causes of terrorism. “Have we studied the root causes?
Why did the planes fly into the World Trade Center?” It would be an
over-simplification, but D’Amore believes that poverty provides the
breeding ground to recruit terrorists. “We need to address poverty,” he
But it does not stop there. “The fear of each other
produces hatred, distrust and death,” he adds. “The only way we can get
to know each other is through tourism. We condemn terrorism, but we have to
forgive and move forward to the betterment of all of us.”
To most minds, this is a Utopian solution. While
forgiveness might be good for the soul, it needs both sides to proffer that
olive branch, and that is not really happening. D’Amore even admits, “We
have been imposing our culture on the rest of the world. As the economic
giants we can impose our will.”
In some cultures, terrorists are known as ‘freedom
fighters’ so where does ‘right’ and ‘might’ fit in there?
D’Amore agrees that further violence is not the answer, and yet the
briefest perusal of any daily newspaper from any country, including
Thailand, shows that governmental responses are just that. Violence.
However, is this something new? Even the poorest student
of human history will have heard of the Crusades, holy wars theoretically
covering a span of almost 200 years from 1095 AD. However, even the Catholic
Encyclopedia websites will admit that “In reality the Crusades continued
until the end of the seventeenth century, the crusade of Lepanto occurring
in 1571, that of Hungary in 1664, and the crusade of the Duke of Burgundy to
Candia, in 1669.” The revered St. Francis of Assisi was actually just one
of the ‘freedom fighters’ of the day. The Catholic Encyclopedia again
stating, “During the next year (1214) Francis set out for Morocco, in
another attempt to reach the infidels and, if needs be, to shed his blood
for the Gospel.” The concept of martyrdom is nothing new, so why should we
be amazed that suicide bombers will shed their blood for their cause?
D’Amore again agrees that this is historically true,
and has no real answer to this present continuation, but does have some
salient points for us to ponder. “We need a new paradigm where we respect
individual people,” he says. He pins his faith on backpackers, whom he
describes as “the first generation of global citizens. They will have the
leadership positions in 20-25 years,” he says. Towards those ends, the
IIPT is forging strategic alliances with youth travel organizations.
“Tourism does give hope for many people and makes for wealth creation.
Tourism brings more money than international aid. Home-stay tourism allows
the traveler to meet the people.”
Can tourism truly bring peace? The answer, in my mind
after talking with D’Amore, is probably yes, but it will need the
individual to make the decisions, rather than having them made for him by
countries, religions and ideologies or dogma. 20-25 years says D’Amore. I
sincerely hope it will be that short. I would like to think of my children
as benefiting from a global community, but for me, the jury’s still out.
Tsunami-survivors, victims’ relatives
invited to attend December 26 memorial
The Thai government will invite, with an offer to pay for
flights and hotel rooms, immediate relatives of over 2,400 tsunami victims
who were killed and 11,000 others injured in the tsunami in Thailand last
year, to join the disaster anniversary memorial on December 26 at five
locations in Thailand’s tsunami-devastated southern Andaman coastline.
Following a meeting of the Tsunami Memorial Ceremony
Organizing Committee which he chaired on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Suwat
Liptapanlop said that morning ceremonies would take place simultaneously at
Phuket’s Patong and Kamala beaches, as well as Ban Nam Khem in Phang-nga,
and Phi Phi Island in Krabi.
A Tsunami Memorial foundation stone-laying ceremony at
Khao Lak Lamlu National Park of Phang Nga will be presided over by Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the evening.
Kho Lak will also have an exhibition displaying tsunami
early warning systems. Also shown will be the five finalist design concepts
chosen for the Tsunami Memorial, one of which will be selected as the winner
to be constructed.
Invitations will be sent to one relative of each of those
who died - about 2,400 persons, both Thai and foreigners, and to each of the
injured - over 11,000. Among those invited are 64 VIPs, including three
heads of state, four presidents and 30 ministers. Acceptances of the
invitations are to be reaffirmed by November 1.
Travel and accommodation expenses for invitees who attend
the anniversary memorial ceremony will be paid by the Thai government, which
has assigned the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to invite foreign guests, and
the Ministry of Interior to coordinate local invitees, with the help of
student volunteers, the deputy prime minister said.
In addition to commemorating the tsunami victims, the
first anniversary will also review developments in rehabilitating the
Andaman coastline, including the restoration of tsunami-damaged
infrastructure, and demonstration of an early warning system, Suwat said.
The Department of Public Works and Town and Country
Planning are now installing 62 tsunami warning signal receiving towers in
the six Andaman provinces. Everything possible is being done to assure the
highest level of safety preparedness.
“We can reassure the public and tourists that the
Andaman is now ready in every way to welcome tourists back,” said the
deputy premier. (TNA)
Harrah’s ups the stakes in casino bid
Harrah’s Entertainment and Keppel Land have roped in
SMG, a US-based marketer and operator of convention centers, to boost their
bid for Singapore’s first casino resort at Marina Bay.
Harrah’s senior vice-president for business
development, Richard Mirman, said: “Our strategy is to assemble a team of
the finest companies in their respective industries to collectively develop
the most exciting and unique must-visit urban resort in Asia.”
SMG hosted more than 9,000 events that attracted more
than 50 million delegates to its 176 managed convention centres, arenas and
facilities across Europe and the US in 2004. The tie-up with Harrah’s is
its first foray into Asia.
Early this week, the Singapore Tourism Board postponed
the launch of the request for proposals for the two casino resorts at Marina
Bay and Sentosa, from end September to end November and the first quarter of
2006, respectively. (TTG Asia)
Singapore still shopaholic’s haven
This year’s two-month long Great Singapore Sale (GSS)
scored a record S$5 billion (US$2.96 billion, Bt.120 billion) in sales, in
part racked up by tourists.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said tourists
contributed S$650 million (Bt.15.6 billion) to the total sales this year and
had spent an average of S$1,415 (Bt.34,000) on shopping, which was a 22
percent increase over the average of S$1,160 (Bt.27,800) last year.
STB’s assistant chief executive for leisure, Dr Chan
Tat Hon, said: “We have achieved a record high of over 1.6 million
visitors during the two-month period of June and July, and we know that GSS
is a key contributor to this record.
“Tourism shopping today accounts for half of the total
expenditure by visitors. As such, GSS will remain a key driver for tourism
receipts and brand Singapore as the region’s shopping hub.”
Earlier this year the STB announced its goal to double visitor arrivals
to 17 million and triple tourism receipts to S$30 billion (Bt.720 billion)
by 2015, and the key markets expected to drive the growth are Indonesia,
India, China and Malaysia. (TTG Asia)
Thai government keen
to strengthen air hub status
Thailand is pushing forward open-skies agreements with
several countries including South Korea, Japan, India, Switzerland and the
US, in a bid to strengthen Suvarnabhumi Airport’s positioning as the
aviation hub of Asia.
Transport Minister Pongsak Raktapongpaisal is confident
that more open skies will benefit the country, particularly once the new
airport is open with a first phase capacity of 45 million passengers.
Talks with the US have shown the highest potential as the
agreement proposal has already been acknowledged by the Cabinet. If
approved, Thailand and the US could increase the current services from 14
flights per week per city to 28 flights in 2007 and 35 flights in 2009. Both
countries could enjoy unlimited services from 2010 plus additional rights to
serve passengers when flying via third countries. (TTG Asia)
Direct Vienna-Phuket a boost for south’s recovery
In a lift to Phuket’s struggling tourism industry,
Austrian Airlines has announced a direct weekly service between Vienna and
The airline will fly once a week to the island every
Saturday from November 5 to March 25. From December 13, the service will be
increased to two flights per week with the extra flight available every
The airline will offer 24 business-class and 234 economy-class seats in a
Boeing 767. It expects full bookings for the Vienna-Phuket flights, carrying
some 14,000 passengers. (TTG Asia)
BOT: Tourist arrivals
decline 2% in August
Slightly more than one million foreign tourists visited
Thailand in August this year, down 2 percent from the corresponding period
of 2004, according to a report issued by the Bank of Thailand (BOT).
Foreign tourists entering the country through the deep
South in August also dropped due to various factors, including concerns
about the tsunami which had devastated the country’s six southern Andaman
coastal provinces of Phuket, Phang-nga, Krabi, Trang, Ranong and Satun last
December. Other deterrents include air pollution (smog from Indonesia) and
the current violence in the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala
Hotel room occupancy in all parts of Thailand in August
stood at 63.8 percent, compared to 66.1 percent in the same period of 2004,
said the central bank, adding that hotel room occupancy in the South alone
retreated sharply to 44.2 percent, compared to 60.1 percent in August last
Largest Chinese outbound group
to visit Land of Smiles
An incentive group consisting of 7,000 employees of a
Beijing-based healthcare product company set off for Thailand on a
six-day/five night leisure tour on October 8.
This is so far the largest outbound tour group China has
ever seen. The group was sub-divided into 12 smaller groups, departing from
33 different locations in China.
China International Travel Service (CITS), the tour
organizer, said the event was initiated by the National Tourism
Administration in an effort to help Thailand recover its tourism from last
Statistics show that before the tsunami, an average of
600,000 to 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Thailand every year. This year,
the figures fell to 200,000.
It took CITS nearly a year to make proper logistic arrangements for the
tour. The group visited Bangkok and Pattaya. It also visited
tsunami-affected communities and offered donations. The group was also
received by Thai royals and government officials. (TTG Asia)
Airports of Thailand decision slammed
Airports of Thailand’s (AoT) decision to halve the
landing fee for charter flights at Phuket airport for three months in an
attempt to lure more international tour groups to the tsunami-battered
island is headed for failure, according to a leading travel industry figure.
Diethelm Travel Thailand managing director, Richard
Brouwer, said timing was crucial if such a move was to be successful and he
doubted AoT had got that right.
He said: “It’s not easy for someone to decide within
a short period of time to fly to Phuket. It takes marketing and tour
operators filling seats, and that has to be done in advance. I’m afraid
the result will not be what they want.”
The decision to halve the landing fee was announced
yesterday and the reduction will come into effect this month.
Shortly after the tsunami, the travel industry proposed
that the AoT either reduce or waive airport service fees to entice carriers
to keep flying to Phuket, but the cabinet rejected the plan.
Brouwer said that since then many airlines had stopped
flying to Phuket, although Europe, spearheaded by Germany, Switzerland and
Scandinavia, was rebounding.
Total aircraft movements at Phuket airport fell 25 percent in the first
nine months of the year. (TTG Asia)
Thai Airways starts direct Bangkok-Moscow in November
Thai Airways International will introduce direct flights
to Moscow three times a week from November 1.
The Bangkok-Moscow (Domodedovo) service will operate on
MD-11 aircraft every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Flight TG974 leaves Bangkok at 10.35, arriving in Moscow
at 16.25. Flight TG975 departs Moscow at 18.20, arriving in Bangkok at 07.05
the following day.
To promote the new service, Thai Airways is offering promotional fares
until January 31 next year, starting at 31,000 baht (US$755) for an economy
ticket, 76,000 baht for Royal Silk and 89,000 for Royal First tickets. (TTG
Third quarter indices reveal cheaper airfares: American Express
The third quarter American Express Airfare Index for Asia
Pacific in 2005 shows slight reductions in airfares compared to the previous
quarter for most classes of travel on routes from Hong Kong, Taiwan, India,
and Thailand, and for Business Class airfares from New Zealand.
In Hong Kong, First Class airfares increased 0.3 percent.
Business Class airfares were unchanged. Full Economy fares fell 0.1 percent
while Discount Economy fell 0.3 percent. Lowest Peak Season Excursion and
Lowest Off Season Excursion airfares both fell 0.2 percent. Year-on-year
increases for First Class, Business Class, Full Economy and Discount Economy
Class fares were 3.1 percent, 3.0 percent, 0.2 percent, and 0 percent
According to head of Consulting Services Japan, Robert
Tedesco, the majority of airlines had instituted temporary fuel surcharges
which were additional to the movements in published airfares monitored by
the Airfare Index.
The overall indices for the region have increased
steadily over the past three years in First and Business Class, up 8.3
percent and 9.7 percent respectively over the three years ending the third
quarter of 2005. The Full Economy and Discount Economy airfare indices
increased 5.8 percent and 5.5 percent over the same period.
Meanwhile, leisure travel economy categories grew at a slower rate, with
a 2.3 percent increase in the Lowest Peak Season Excursion and 2.9 percent
for Lowest Off Season Excursion across the three-year period. (TTG Asia)