3 October 2005
Third Global Summit on Peace through Tourism
2-5 October 2005
Pattaya, Thailand
Keynote Speech
Mr. Kim Hak-Su
Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, and
Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured and pleased to address the Third Global Summit on Peace through Tourism. It is, indeed, wonderful to know that the Summit provides a forum for bringing together a wide range of stakeholders from around the world. Moreover, I applaud your aim: develop a Twenty-first Century Agenda for Peace through Tourism that will build on support of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations Decade of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.
Tourism is now one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world and has an impact far beyond its economic and business aspects. Recent estimates by the World Travel and Tourism Council indicate that the tourism industry contributes to around 10 per cent of global GDP and provides employment to some 215 million people worldwide. Over 760 million people were traveling as international tourists in 2004. Tourism is on its way to becoming the largest industry in the world and is an increasingly important catalyst for globalization in terms of intensified economic, social and cultural relations across borders.
I am sure that all of us here firmly believe that international tourism will maintain and strengthen its contribution to economic development. However, we have to take greater responsibility to reinforce the potential for tourism to reduce poverty, protect the environment and contribute more to peace for future generations.
The central challenge that we face today is to ensure that countries can seize the new opportunities created by globalization while minimizing the inevitable costs. Globalization is shaping a new environment with profound implications for economic and social development, business behaviour and the overall level of economic welfare of nations.

The process of globalization has led to phenomenal surges in international trade and investment. Globalization, which involves accelerated interactions and integration due to less costly, more frequent and faster transport; improved access to information technologies; and freer movement of capital, goods and people, has also created enormous opportunities for the expansion of tourism.
In economic terms, international tourism has often been a principal source of foreign exchange earnings for developing countries. Tourism is also playing a vital role in the socio-economic development of many least developed countries, including Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal and several Pacific island countries. The tourism industry is one of the few development options for these countries. It provides an opportunity to diversify economic structures and thereby play a significant role in raising the standard of living and lifting people above the poverty line.
Importantly, tourism can make a real contribution to spreading development to regions that may not have benefited from other types of economic development. Tourism offers labour intensive and small-scale business opportunities and employs a high proportion of women and youth. The potential of tourism to create jobs is particularly important since unemployment is the principal social and economic challenges facing many developing countries. Tourism’s capacity to employ women and youth as well as other vulnerable members of society can contribute greatly to social equity.
In the Maldives, for example, the tourism sector contributed about 31 per cent to gross domestic product in 2003 and has been the major source of foreign exchange earnings and tax revenue for many years. Revenue generated from tourism has enabled the government to allocate financial resources for improving education and health conditions. Almost 100 per cent of the people in the Maldives are now literate. The infant mortality rate has improved from 121 per thousand in 1977 to 38 per thousand in 2004. Over the same period, average life expectancy at birth increased from 47 years to 67 years.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tourism can encourage greater awareness of the environment and cultural heritage when many stakeholders participate with the government to create appropriate tourism programmes and policies. This dynamic form of cooperation works, since it is based on travelers seeking to enjoy and appreciate local culture and the natural environment in all of its diversity. The tourism industry thus has a direct and powerful incentive to protect the heritage and the environment as both resources and assets. It is possible for tourism to generate financial resources to rehabilitate historic sites and buildings; conserve the natural environment; revitalize culture and encourage craftspeople and artists to maintain their traditional skills.

The United Nations Millennium Declaration committed the member countries to reducing by half the number of people living on less than a dollar a day by 2015. Tourism can be in the frontline of the fight against poverty. We know that the tourism industry can create a number of development synergies to help overcome poverty through job creation in various regions, including remote rural areas. This is particularly important since the great majority of people in extreme poverty live in rural areas. Through the creation and promotion of new products, tourism can have a uniquely sustainable role in directly reducing poverty.
There is no doubt that tourism can contribute to poverty reduction. However, there is a clear need for the right strategies to enhance the role of tourism. Efforts by the government and other stakeholders need to be combined and coordinated. Strategies should be based on the specific needs and aspirations of the poor in order to design practical measures that maximize benefits for people who are poor and vulnerable. It would be critical to empower marginalized communities through their involvement in tourism policy-making and planning process in their locality. It would be essential to enhance awareness of local communities about the importance of preserving the environment and socio-cultural heritage to their own economic and social benefit and provide them with necessary support. This is a challenge we need to address together if we are to create viable and sustainable tourism products that will attract tourists and thereby generate incomes.
We also need to recognize that providers of tourism services, particularly hotels, can play a critical role in poverty reduction through the purchase of goods and services provided by local communities that include poor people. It is, therefore, particularly important that strategies for sustainable tourism development include ways to make mainstream tourism businesses more aware and active in their concern for poor people. This can include employment, supply chain management and support for local communities. Indeed, we would see such responsible initiatives as being an opportunity for mainstream tourism operators that they are not exploiting but preserving the very products that they offer.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Tourism and peace should be linked not only through our ideas but actions. Tourism can foster cross-cultural understanding among peoples of different nationalities and thus serve as a potential vehicle for world peace. Ignorance, misunderstanding, racism and xenophobia have a long history of leading to conflict. It is through our common thirst for knowledge that understanding people and their values is a basis for a peaceful world.
Tourism provides opportunities for direct contact between people with different culture and values. The growth of international tourism thus promotes mutual understanding and has the potential to contribute significantly to a culture of peace worldwide.

It goes almost without saying that peace is a prerequisite for the tourism industry to maintain its growth and record of success. As we are aware, in recent years, tourism has been the direct victim of numerous incidents that have hindered the healthy growth of the industry. For instance, the tourism industry in the Asia- Pacific region has been severely affected by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Bali bombings in October 2002 and other violent incidents. These incidents have had a major impact on tourism, creating widespread fear and uncertainty among potential travelers. In this regard, there is a need to ensure that the world is properly informed and understands the real levels of risk and the improved security that now exists. Many Asia-Pacific countries have suffered a sharp drop in tourism arrivals with resultant loss of tourism-related jobs and income, and a decline in foreign exchange earnings. Tourism can only flourish in a safe and peaceful environment. It is therefore essential that the government and all tourism stakeholders work toward achieving this condition.
I now would like to reflect on the issue of “non-violence for the children of the world”. We have to understand and acknowledge that fast economic growth and far-reaching social changes over the past two decades has made some groups more vulnerable to many different forms of violence. Macroeconomic reforms designed to accelerate growth in the future must incorporate measures to safeguard the interests of the weakest sections of society, including women, youth and children. Among this group, children are the most vulnerable and they need special protection. In the past, the system of extended families and caring communities protected and nurtured the growth of children in countries of Asia and the Pacific. However, as families migrate to towns, this system is functioning less well and new types of problems are emerging. These include child abuse and exploitation, juvenile delinquency and problems related to child sex.
The Global Code of Ethics of the World Tourism Organization states that the exploitation of human beings in any form particularly sexual, especially when applied to children, goes against the fundamental aims of tourism. Exploitation of children contradicts principles, values and respect for human rights which should define the contribution of tourism to international peace and understanding.
In this context, the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation met in 1996 and developed an Agenda for Action that included multi-sectoral and cross-boundary responses.
The sexual abuse of children has a severe and long lasting impact on the health and well-being of victims. Child sex tourism cannot be tolerated, because it is one of the most brutal forms of violence against children. We cannot look the other way, all tourism stakeholders must commit to preventing sexual exploitation of children in tourism destinations.

Ladies and gentlemen,
UNESCAP is firmly committed to activities aimed at sustainable tourism development. Our tourism programme aims to help governments maximize the socioeconomic benefits from tourism development while minimizing adverse impacts. The Plan of Action for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Asian and Pacific Region is one initiative of the secretariat. It was launched in 1999 to increase the contribution of tourism at the national and regional level and to assist the long-term prosperity in Asia and the Pacific. UNESCAP has been focusing on capacity building for sustainable tourism development and promotion of regional cooperation within the framework of the Plan of Action.
The Plan of Action will expire at the end of 2005. UNESCAP is convening a High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on Sustainable Tourism Development that will be hosted by the Government of Indonesia in Bali from 7 to 9 December 2005. Delegations attending the Meeting will review accomplishments made under the Plan of Action and consider the extension of the Plan into a second phase from 2006 to 2012. Enhancing as well as sustaining the role of tourism in socio-economic development and poverty reduction is expected to be the major focus of the second phase of the Plan of Action.
I am encouraged to see that this Summit is being held in support of the UN
Millennium Development Goals and the United Nations Decade of Peace and NonViolence for the Children of the World under the theme of “One Earth One Family”.
The theme embodies fundamental values that are essential for international relations
in a globalizing world: Freedom, Equality, Solidarity, Tolerance, Respect for
Nature and Shared Responsibility.
I am sure that these values and principles will be the basis for discussions
during the Third Global Summit on Peace through Tourism.
I extend my most optimistic wish that this Summit will provide new ideas and insights about how tourism can effectively contribute to upholding the principles and achieving the goals of the United Nations. I am convinced that tourism can do much to make our earth a better and more peaceful place to live.