IIPT is committed to having youth
involvement in its conference programs, and offers an essay contest with a
scholarship award prior to a conference.
The essay winner of the 3rd Global Summit on Peace through Tourism was Clara Tang.
Please read further for the author's bio, essay summary and complete essay text.
Clara Tang – Personal Biography
Born and raised in
Singapore, Clara Xiangru Tang is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Travel
Industry Management with Honors at the School of Travel Industry Management,
University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. During her two years of undergraduate studies,
Clara has consistently earned a spot on the Dean’s List and received the
Outstanding Senior in Tourism award in 2005. Aside from academic achievements,
Clara is currently serving as the Chair of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)
Hawai`i School of Travel Industry Management Satellite Chapter and interning
with the Market Trends Department at the Hawai`i Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Peace and tourism
has shared a close relationship since early history, yet, the relationship has
often been narrowly defined in several studies. This essay thus examines the
relationship between peace and tourism in a holistic approach through a tourism
describes how tourism can be developed in successive stages to bring about peace
at three levels: government-government, government-community, and
community-community. Peace is also achieved through managing the impacts of
tourism development on the relations among various stakeholders during each
developmental stage. The four proposed types of relations are (1) acquaintance,
(2) adaptability, (3) animosity, and (4) affinity.
While tourism may
be only one of the many vehicles for driving peace, this world’s largest
industry is definitely a significant step in bridging people together and
creating universal peace. After all, peace and stability are the building blocks
Building A Culture of Peace Through Tourism
Professor Kaye Chon
Education Forum Chairperson
3rd Global Submit on Peace Through Tourism
Clara Xiangru Tang
School of Travel Industry Management
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
June 30, 2005
The humble beginnings of peace and tourism can be traced back to early
history when envoys were often sent to negotiate peace treaties, develop trade,
or spread religious beliefs in other parts of the world. However, it was
probably until 1986 when the International Institute of Peace through Tourism
(IIPT) was established that the relationship between peace and tourism gained
formal recognition globally. Founded in the United Nations International Year of
Peace, the goal of IIPT was to leverage on the tourism industry to bring peace
to a world plagued by terrorist activities, political strains, environmental
degrading, and economic disparities (International Institute of Peace through
Tourism). Thereafter, numerous peace and tourism movements, including the Global
Peace Parks Project, Global Summit on Peace through Tourism, and IIPT regional
and global conferences, have been organized at national, regional, and
international levels, demonstrating the travel industry’s commitment to building
a culture of peace universally (International Institute of Peace through
Today, the close relationship between peace and tourism is reinforced again
due to the series of political, socio-cultural, economic, and environmental
instabilities in the last four years. As the travel industry gradually recovers
from the 9-11 attack on America in 2001, Bali bombing in 2002, SARS outbreak in
2003, Asia tsunami disaster in 2004, and the ongoing Iraq war, the world has
also come to appreciate the importance of peace and tourism in our lives.
However, considering the multitudinous efforts at fostering peace through
tourism, studies that have previously attempted to explain the relationship
between peace and tourism only in terms of politics, crime, or cultural
exchanges may then be too narrow or even unjust to the travel industry.
As such, this essay proposes a model in which tourism can be developed in
successive stages to bring about peace at three levels: government-government,
government-community, and community-community.
TOURISM AND PEACE: A DEVELOPMENTAL MODEL
Regardless of the type of tourism development, every development entails some
sort of direct or indirect interaction among the various stakeholders such as
the resident, visitor, tourism supplier, government, and non-government
organization (NGO). Hence, in order to build peace through tourism, it is
essential to understand and manage the impacts of tourism developments on
relations among these stakeholders. Based on the different stages of tourism
development, I have used the following model (Refer to Figure I) to classify
four possible kinds of relationship among stakeholders. They are (1)
acquaintance, (2) adaptability, (3) animosity, and (4) affinity.
Throughout the model, I will also be adopting a multi-level approach in
illustrating how tourism effectively builds a culture of peace through three
levels of interactions among stakeholders. The three levels are
government-government, government-community, and community-community.
Government-government encompasses interactions between government and government
and government and NGO. Government-community, on the other hand, is defined as
relations among the resident, government, and tourism supplier. Finally,
community-community refers to interactions between the resident and visitor,
resident and resident, and visitor and visitor.
The seeds of peace are sowed here, as the start of tourism developments marks
the initial contact between the host and guest. During this stage, few but
significant changes take place at the three levels of interactions.
Firstly, tourism begins at a governmental level because government
regulations and policies are required to facilitate travel. To illustrate:
Family travel between Lahore and Delhi and between the two sides of the Kashmir
area is now possible with the introduction of bus services on these routes (Koumelis).
Not only has tourism improved family relations, but also paved way for thawing
relations between the two countries. Indeed, tourism often creates a platform
for governments to work together towards bilateral agreements such as air rights
and visa rules. Established in 1994, the Singapore-Vietnam Tourism Agreement,
for example, has served as an excellent platform for the two countries to
co-operate in manpower training and tourism development (Ministry of Trade and
Industry). Tourism may even act as a preliminary communication channel between
politically divided countries. According to Yu and Chung, North and South Korea
and China and Taiwan have used tourism to obtain "political leverage and
conciliation at low politics level (544)." Low politics refer to the level of
political interaction between countries that is characterized by "issues of
lesser importance related to lower levels of authority (Spero)." In addition, Yu
and Chung also point out that tourism may deepen mutual understanding between
two countries by facilitating economic flow between them and improve their
economic relations (538).
Secondly, fiscal gains instill peace at a government-community level by
spreading wealth within the community. This is because profits from tourism can
be re-injected into the local economy to maximize the socio-economic benefits
for residents. According to a study conducted in Hawaii in the early 1980s, most
respondents agreed that tourism brought about an array of economic benefits
ranging from employment and investments to local entrepreneurship (Liu and Var
201). Indeed, tourism partnerships between government and foreign investors can
stimulate economic growth in developing nations that may lack sufficient capital
at the beginning.
Thirdly, while familiarity may be at minimum during this preliminary
developmental phase, intimate host-guest interactions allow both parties to
experience each other’s culture and break cultural barriers that may have
existed due to prior lack of understanding. These personal interactions may even
form the basis for easing relations between politically divided countries.
In order to adapt to growing demand, appropriate tourism developments occur
more rapidly during the second stage while continuing to contribute to peace at
the three levels of interactions.
At the governmental level, countries extend beyond bilateral agreements, and
enter into multilateral agreements. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations
(ASEAN), for instance, is actively involved in spearheading multilateral
collaboration among its members to boost trade and tourism in Southeast Asia
through tourism projects such as "Recovery of the Tourism Sector" in 1999 and
"ASEAN-China Seminar-Workshop on Cultural Resource Management for Tourism" in
2001 (ASEAN). Moreover, countries may also participate in the global network
through joining regional and world tourism organizations as well as implementing
international policies. China, for example, became a member of the World Tourism
Organization in 1983, signifying its determination to ride on tourism for
economic growth after it opened up in 1978 (Yves). On the other hand, the UNESCO
World Heritage program seeks to establish peace with our cultural and natural
heritage by identifying global sites for conservation. As of July 2004, the
World Heritage Center listed 788 cultural, natural, and mixed properties in over
120 States Parties (UNESCO World Heritage Center). Because the natural and
cultural beauty of these sites have drawn countless people from all over the
world, many people have blamed tourism for destroying them. On the contrary, I
contend that with careful protective measures, tourism can actually be a steady
source of revenue for sustaining these invaluable treasures for our present and
future generations. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, for instance, is
divided into different zones to manage the impact of tourism through policing
the type of activities that visitors can engage in (Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park Authority). As a result, visitors can enjoy the wonders of the Great
Barrier Reef and respect the environment at the same time. In fact, as the chief
commercial activity in the Great Barrier Reef region, tourism provides the local
economy with more than A$4.23 billion worth of revenue annually (Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park Authority).
Because natural, heritage, and cultural attractions are often mega pull for
visitors, most destinations embark on heavy marketing of their attractions
during the second stage of development. These attractions usually undergo
modifications in response to tourist demand, causing critics to hold tourism
responsible for breaking down a place identity. In contrast, tourism may serve
as the bridge between the government and community to social peace by assisting
the constant construction of place identity, which is "built according to a
broader set of political, economic, and cultural processes rather than in
relative isolation from those processes (Oakes 36)." China, for instance, has
been confronted with the contradiction of pursuing modernity whilst keeping
strong ties with a traditional past (41). Tourism has thus played a key role in
"directing China’s gaze toward minority culture as an exotic and primitive
source of vitality for modern China as it faces the cool onrush of global
capitalism and the McWorld (42)." In Zhaoxing, for example, tourism has secured
the village’s position as the place for authentic Dong tradition. Aligned with
the objective of maintaining the authenticity and sense of place in Zhaoxing,
state funds were allocated to help reinstate its traditional look through
restoration projects such as renovating several Western buildings in the
village’s traditional architectural style (64). Besides recovering the physical
aspects of the Dong culture and constructing a sense of place for Zhaoxing,
tourism has enabled the indigenous people to regain their confidence through the
official recognition of the state and tourism industry. Tourism has aided the
village to "embrace modernity without losing [its] traditions…ensure that
Zhaoxing remain authentically Dong (65)."
Finally, at a personal level within the community, familiarity and
understanding grow quickly with more frequent interactions between the host and
guest. Some, however, may doubt the genuineness of cultural understanding that
occur between a visitor and resident. According to MacCannell (593), tourists,
akin to pilgrims, are constantly looking for authentic experiences. Yet, the
tourist’s search for authenticity is futile because tourist settings are often
"staged" to satisfy this desire. Tourism is consequently alleged for creating
stereotypes and social conflicts by mystifying the "Others." Then again, what
exactly constitutes "authenticity?" Is "authenticity" simply "the quality of
being genuine or true (Oxford 64)" that comes with the connotation of
"timelessness?" If culture is defined as "the customs and beliefs, art, way of
life, and social organization of a particular country or group (Oxford 284)," is
not it inevitable for culture to evolve over time to suit the changing needs of
a group? Other than recognizing that cultures are dynamic, Taylor’s notion of
sincerity (Taylor 8) is also eminent in seeing how tourism can promote peace
through cultural exchanges at a community level. Unlike authenticity, which is
usually rooted in the "internal quality of a thing, self or Other (23),"
sincerity "occurs in the zone of contact among participating groups or
individuals (23)." Sincerity "demands a shift away from objectification, towards
negotiation (20)." For this reason, just because an interaction happens in the
"front region," it does not necessarily preclude sincerity and genuineness.
Using Maori tourism in New Zealand as an example, even though marae
visits are "staged" encounters with Maori culture, interactivity and sincerity
still underlie them, permitting cross-cultural understanding and "communication
of more localized identities (16)." Sincerity therefore ties the cultural
experiences of the tourist and host to themselves at the present time rather
than emphasizing the connotations of authenticity (23).
Although tourism can be a catalyst for building peace, tourism developments,
if left unchecked, may result in socio-political, economic, and environmental
At a governmental-government level, travel advisories have become a sensitive
issue following the increased terrorist activities since 2001. It is
understandable that travel advisories are aimed at protecting a nation’s
citizens, yet it is even more critical for organizations to issue fair travel
advisories. Because of the complexity of travel advisories, the Pacific Asia
Travel Association (PATA) has designed the PATA Code for Fair Travel Advisory
Issuance to mitigate misunderstandings between nations on travel advisories (PATA).
At a government-community level, resentment towards tourism often occurs when
developments fail to honor local traditions and values. To illustrate this:
Believed to be the source of mana ("power") and immortality, ancestors’ iwi
("bones") are held in high esteem in the Hawaiian society (Kanahele 45). As
proper burial is critical for the iwi of a deceased person to return to the
ground to impart his or her mana upon completing his or her journey (State
Historic Preservation Division), burial sites are extremely important to Native
Hawaiians. Nonetheless, due to the secrecy of burial traditions, escalating
developments have endangered unmarked native Hawaiian burial sites that can be
found on any part of the island. In 1988, the construction of Ritz Carlton at
Kapalua on Maui saw the rallying of Native Hawaiians towards the preservation of
native burials after more than 1,100 ancestral native Hawaiian burials were
unearthed at the site. The Burial Sites Program was subsequently introduced to
oversee the care, management, protection, and inventory of unmarked burial sites
throughout the State of Hawaii (State Historic Preservation Division). This case
shows while governments may welcome tourism developments, it is vital that both
public policy makers and private developers incorporate local values and
traditions in their planning to prevent animosity from the residents.
Lastly, irresponsible tourism developments may create conflicts at the
community level. According to Biddlecomb (38), tourism gives rise to
demonstration effects that are "… changes in attitudes, values or behavior which
can result from merely observing tourists. The effect is most easily and
frequently seen in local patterns of consumption which change to imitate those
of the tourists." Nevertheless, it is crucial to realize that in the present era
of media explosion, demonstration effects are not restricted to tourism.
Influences from television, movies, and increasingly, the Internet, have grown
to be more significant than ever.
The ultimate vision of tourism is to attain peace through fostering amiable
host-guest relationships founded on shared cultural understanding and acceptance
and equitable returns. At this stage, the world enjoys political, economic,
environmental, and socio-cultural stability.
Because we are living in a global village, "domestic" issues are no longer
restricted within the geographical boundaries of a place. Every nation works
together towards maintaining world peace. Last year, when the Indian Ocean
earthquake and tsunami hit Asia, travel almost came to a standstill in the
affected destinations. The impacts of sluggish tourism performance, which
quickly trickled down the economy, highlighted the value of travel industry and
prompted world organizations and governments to cooperate in restoring peace and
regaining travel confidence among people. The PATA Foundation, for instance,
raised nearly US$250,000 worth of direct and "in-kind" donations to aid the
tsunami recovery efforts in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Thailand (PATA).
Tourism has definitely uncovered the compassion and empathy in mankind.
At a government-community level, policies are executed to advocate ethical
business practices in the travel industry. North Carolina is one of the many
states that have implemented green initiatives for all its hospitality and
lodging properties. Pioneered by the North Carolina Division of Pollution
Prevention and Environmental Assistance (DPPEA), the Green Plan for hotels
strives to reduce waste, recycle, and conserve energy and water (North Carolina
Division of Pollution, Prevention and Environmental Assistance). In addition to
environmental peace, other spin-off benefits of tourism in the form of
employment for women and youth, cultural revitalization, higher life quality,
ethnic harmony, and enhanced local image (Liu 228) will add to the world’s
At a community-community level, peace is accomplished with both the host and
guest being able to embrace cultural diversities while retaining their unique
values and traditions. This function of tourism coincides with the UNESCO
Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity which highlights the significance of
"cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue" for the development of peace
(UNESCO Cultural Sector). As opposed to a common debate about the pros and cons
of mass tourist and independent tourist in the travel industry, this final stage
of tourism development focuses on responsible travelers. The travelers of
tomorrow are envisioned to be educated, culturally sensitive, and ethical. Not
only will the personal interactions through tourism broaden the individual
traveler’s perspective, but also play a core role in nurturing world peace. This
is because with youth tourism composing 17 percent of all international travel
in 2000 (World Tourism Organization), the youth traveler is well poised to be
one of the expanding market segments in future. Since today’s young travelers
will be tomorrow’s leaders in their respective communities, youth tourism is an
imperative factor in building global peace by exposing young people to different
Although the affinity stage is theoretically the final stage, tourism
development is a continuous process. Destinations must regularly return to the
second stage where adaptations are made to fulfill the vision of building a
culture of peace through tourism.
Due to the intricacies of personal and political interactions, tourism is
only one of the vehicles for building peace because issues such as religious and
political beliefs are also central in shaping relationships. Nevertheless, as
international arrivals are forecasted to exceed 1.56 billion by the year 2020
(World Tourism Organization), it is not surprising that the world’s largest
industry is looked upon as a central force for advocating peace. After all,
based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety needs surpasses all other human
needs after physiological needs (Wikipedia). Safety is therefore a major factor
in most travel choices. Since peace and stability are not merely innate human
desires, but also fundamental blocks of tourism, the travel industry is
certainly a significant step in bridging people together and creating universal
peace. As Louis D’Amore commented, it is "in the travel industry’s enlightened
self interest to work towards the realization of a peaceful and stable
socio-political environment in which world travel and tourism can thrive (World
Travel and Tourism Council)." To conclude, in the gloom of uncertainty today, I
strongly believe that responsible tourism is our guiding light in this voyage to
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