A Strategic Tourism Industry Response
To International Terrorism
Ziad Al Bandak
Minister of Tourism & Antiquities
Pattaya -
October 2005

Dear Excellencies,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to extend my deepest thanks and gratitude to the Board of the International Institute For Peace through Tourism and to Mr. Louis D’ Amore for giving me this great honor of being one of the Keynote speakers in the third Global Summit on Peace through Tourism and for providing the chance for me to contribute to the achievement of the noble goals of this summit, and to reach with you consensus on the contribution of the world’s largest industry to the global issues of our time. I am very happy to visit this beautiful land and to meet the wonderful people. After the big catastrophe of Tsunami, I wish you will be able to rebuild your social, cultural and environmental assets and restore ?our livelihood as well as to recover economic means of survival and access to services.

Coming from the oldest tourism and Pilgrimage destination in the world’s history, Palestine, I would like to show my great interest to share with you ideas in regard to the Strategic Tourism industry response to international Terrorism taking the experience of my country and my region.

Tourism is a rapidly growing phenomenon and has become one of the largest industries in the world. It plays an important and positive role in the economical, social and political development in destination countries, through employment creation, income redistribution and poverty alleviation. It also has other potential cultural positive impacts; Tourism is a force for peace and cultural exchange and means of understanding between peoples and cultures.

On the other side, terrorism not only kills innocent people and destroys properties, but also stops economic growth, undermines markets and investors confidence and reduces tourism flow and investment. It affects very negatively all tourism association such as airlines, hotels, travel agents and catering, as well as other sectors that supply intermediate or final goods to tourists. It also leads to unemployment and social problems.

In the light of the importance of tourism, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, since its establishment in 1994, started working on regional cooperation to promote tourism to the area especially with Israel by organizing joint promotional activities joint press conferences youth exchange programs, visits and tours organized in Palestine and Israel.

The result was great. The economy on both sides has flourished and tourism in Palestine has reached its peak since 4’ears. Tourism has been able to contribute $350 million to the national yearly revenue, and provide 12000 job opportunities. Investment in the tourism sector increased remarkably and in the third quarter of 2000, the number of tourists scored to one million. In addition to that, real bridges between both nations started to be seen from the deep valleys. Both cultures were freely opened to be explored by the other part. No fear, no restrictions, no walls, no borders and no checkpoints.

Not only terrorism but also state’s measures and actions could have the same results as terrorism as in the case of Palestine. After the outbreak of the Palestinian Intifada in September 2000 due to the continuation of the occupation, Israel took measures that affected negatively the Palestinian tourism industry and undermined the various tourism institutions.
The market for travel and tourism in the region experienced collapse, with an overall decline in revenue from incoming tourism. The private sector started to face the most severe financial difficulties after heavy investment and borrowing pre-2000. The fall in revenue and declining occupancy levels forced several large groups to sustain considerable financial losses and to implement longer seasonal closures. The bridges of peace built in the last years were destroyed and the trust between both nations has vanished. The official channels between the Israeli and Palestinian ministries were blocked. Each Ministry tried its best to promote the land it controls, but the result was very disappointing to both of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In November 2004, Ministers of Tourism of Israel and Palestine signed an historic joint statement pledging to cooperate to promote tourism to the area. This was the first meeting as such between the two ministers in four years. In the statement, both parties undertook to “take effective measures to assure the safe and smooth passage of pilgrims” and tourists visiting Israeli and Palestinian areas...” and announced that both ministries will cooperate in promoting tourism to the Holy Land.” Israel took measure to facilitate flow of tourism between Palestine and Israel. This was followed by joint meeting on many level. The last meeting, which took place in Egypt on September 2005, was a regional meeting between the ministers of tourism of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestine to find ways to promote the region and take measures to smooth movements of tourists between these countries. They have called upon countries to amend the Travel Advice of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Good Results started to come out of this cooperation in terms of numbers of visitors and income.
On the other hand Israel didn’t stop its destructive measures against the Palestinians, their land and society in terms of continuing the occupation, building the Separation Wall on the Palestinian land (despite the resolution of the Higher Court of Justice), confiscating the land, assassinations, the closure ... etc. Such actions are the real causes for conflict and violence.
Despite the conflict in Palestine and the violence which we have witnessed in the last five years and the difficult situation my people is experiencing tourists have never been sed as targets to achieve political goals. Palestine was and still considered one of the safest places. Tourists are very highly respected and protected. It is our culture and mentality to welcome foreigners.

I believe that every one of us can contribute in eliminating terrorism by addressing its causes and contributing to their solution. Before we discuss the measures we should agree on the following:
1.The UN must take serious measures and actions to implement justice and the International Law equally without double standards.
2. Only with negotiations and non-violent measures nations can reach their goals and objectives. Terrorism never brings solutions. ft brings war and misery.
3. Countries and communities should condemn all kind of terrorism actions targeting innocents; locals and foreigners.
4. Each nation must respect and abide by the resolutions of the international community regardless of its power and relations.
5. Each nation has the right to have its freedom, independence and self determination.
6. Each nation must respect the human rights of other nations including the right to live, to move, to travel, to pray and the right to express themselves ...etc.

Decision makers and tourism professionals should take the following measures and actions to eliminate terrorism, going into the roots and reasons and contributing to a long-term solution to international violence in all its form:
1. The international community should assume its responsibility in resolving conflicts based on the international Law and resolutions especially the occupation of Palestine.
2. Developed countries should give the under-developed technical and financial support to develop their countries and improve the standard of living of their people. Prosperity is the enemy of Terrorism.
3. Developed countries should help poor countries by funding awareness campaigns on the importance of tourism to the local government and local community. The international media should play an active role in this regard.
4. Developed countries should invest in organizing large public events, which is an effective way to bring together groups of people, offering them entertainment and enjoyment.
5. It is important for individuals and associations involved in tourism and Travel to work together and to open bridges between each other through joint activities such
as seminars, workshops, lectures, tours, visits, events etc.
6. Encourage Responsible Tourism, which gives tourist the chance to meet with the local people and know their cultures. Tourists on the other side should consider culture, society, economic system and environment of the host country.
7. Threats of terrorism must not affect tourism and travel industry. Tourism events must continue regardless of the cost of security.

While Tourism encourages peace, peace is absolutely a necessity to promote tourism. Peaceful co-existence amongst nations would certainly promote sustainable tourism industry that is liable to bring together countries to cooperate and unite on shared development projects thus allowing them all to reap and enjoy the plentiful fruits of tourism
We should all join hands and work together with a global strategy to initiate effective links across our national boundaries to confront to international threats in order to build a better world , a world free from war, oppression and terrorism , a world that enjoys justice , democracy and peace for us and for the generations to come.