Peace Tourism

“Travel has become one of the great forces for peace and understanding of our time… As people move throughout the world and learn to know each other, to understand each other’s customs, and to appreciate the qualities of the individuals of each nation, we are building a level of international understanding which can sharply improve the attitude for world peace.”

President John F. Kennedy

From Tourism for Peace

Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day on September 27. Each year the World Tourism Day has a different theme:
2011: Tourism Linking Cultures
2012: Tourism and Energetic Sustainability
2013: Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future

I hope the theme of the 2014 day will be ‘Peace Tourism’ or ‘Tourism for Peace’.

Nuwan Herath provides a good overview if this relatively recent concept in his article “Peace Through Tourism”:

“Peace tourism intends to reduce root causes that create situations where violence has been perceived as inevitable. It is not a replacement for various other kinds of tourism practice, but is rather intended to be a facilitator to enhance sustainable development and positive peace through the tourism industry…”

It has been speculated that the industry will reach up to 1.56 billion tourists worldwide by 2020. With such a large number of people travelling around the globe, it is not surprising that scholars and other professionals involved in the tourism industry started looking at tourism’s potential for peace making. The major assumption behind the notion of peace tourism is that when people travel frequently all over the world, it helps them get to know new people, cultures, values etc. That experience is capable of increasing mutual understanding among people who have been living in diverse cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, such travel also benefits the host countries economically and politically.

However, there is an opposing view which claims tourism is not a generator of peace but a “beneficiary of peace.” Tourism is only possible in areas where peace is present; it is absent in war zones, and much diminished in areas of high conflict and tension. Additionally, tourism has been perceived as a way of exploiting local people and destinations through the “commoditization” of local cultures. This view identifies tourism as a new way of perpetuating western dominance in the developing world…

Each of these views holds some truth, one view being more accurate in some places, the other more accurate in others. A key question to answer is how the worldwide tourism industry could be redesigned to help sustain positive peace on all parts of the globe. A very challening question, but hopefully one day we’ll find a good solution for that.

Meanwhile let’s keep learning more about each other and our cultures while travelling the world – in real life as well as via the internet.

From Morocco Peace Tours


11 thoughts on “Peace Tourism

  1. billiamholt says:

    I think travelling with little to no reservations is the way to go. You end up meeting a wonderfully hospitable elderly woman at the train station. She offers to let you stay at her home. Next thing you know your eating with her entire family. When I tell my parents about doing such things, it scares the hell out of them. You just have to use your better judgement and be adaptable, and not judgemental. The benefits can not be expressed completely through language. It’s a life changing experience. Thanks for writing!

  2. aspenlinmer says:

    I can understand both points of view.

    On the one hand it is certainly true that going to other countries and building relationships with other peoples can be very beneficial. For example, I have heard studies and interviews of efforts made to help Israeli and Muslim children become friends in the hopes that they would understand, as they grew up, another’s perspective. Also, even when we travel as tourists we have the chance to see things outside our norm and begin to understand that there is more in our world.

    However, I have also seen (and experienced) the opposite. Other cultures can be extremely difficult to understand…they can even be harmful. When we are hurt by another culture it can be very difficult to undo and prejudice can result.

    It’s a great topic to bring up for discussing! Thank you for sharing


  3. Francina says:

    I do like the thought of Peace Tourism for all .. 🙂
    groetjes Francina

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