A panel discussion, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Austria, the World Tourism Organization and the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education of the University of Klagenfurt, was held today to address the importance of tourism as a tool for peacebuilding process. Mr. Sajdik opened the discussion by sharing how tourism played the vital role in his own country, Austria, in recovering prosperity after World War II. He believed tourism can be a source of sustainable economic growth as well as the well-being for people. He carried on by highlighting tourism as building block for peace and harmony in which cultural dialogue and exchanges are embraced and promoted.
Mr. Rifai referred tourism as global peace industry, where tourists could freely engage in local communities and share stories with one another, meanwhile break barriers to embrace multicultural understanding. He anticipated stability and peace could be uphold and foster in this age of travelling if we called upon ourselves to be global ambassadors, promoting mutual understanding, tolerance and peace through tourism. Mr. Al-Nasser, then elaborated by pointing out tourism is an enabler for peace and development, fosters exchange of ideas and objectives and helps to make awareness of the diversity of cultural backgrounds.
Ms. Wohlmuther, the author of International Handbook on Tourism and Peace, introduced her work and discussed how tourism can overcome conflict and culture peace in eight domains of actions. She illustrated the connection between tourism and peace by means of case studies of Alps-Adriatic Region, Columbia, Myanmar and emphasized the importance of global citizenship education as top priority to raise global awareness and develop empathy for diversity. She called for the practice of peace-sensitive tourism, a new terminology used in her book, to foster peace, promote justice and humanity and to solve conflict in non-violence manner.
Speakers: Martin Sajdik, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in New York; Taleb D. Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization; Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations; Cordula Wohlmuther, author of International Handbook on Tourism and Peace
Location: United Nations, NLB 7, New York
Date: 13 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau