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Reported by eTurbo News
July 16, 2006
May I commend you
for taking the initiative to call on leaders of the travel and
tourism industry to condemn the violence of the past several days in
the Middle East - violence that continues to escalate. As is
becoming more and more common in conflicts since the 20th century -
the victims of that violence have been mostly innocent civilians.
Clearly, tourism is also a casualty of conflict - and indeed, often the target of violence. Tourism to Palestine has been virtually non-existent since the start of the Intefada in September 2000 - a year that should have seen tourism to both Palestine and Israel reach new heights.
Lebanon was just beginning to experience economic recovery with tourism as a major factor in that recovery. (One of IIPT's interns has been contributing to a major tourism development project in Lebanon being implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC).
And at a recent conference of the American Tourism Society in Tel Aviv, Israel's Minister of Tourism announced the Ministry's goal to double tourism arrivals in the next five years. This is highly unlikely given the present situation.
It is time that we learn the lessons of history - that violence leads to more violence - and indeed, most often to escalating violence. As Gandhi said, "An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth - soon the entire world will be blind and toothless."
It is time that responsible leaders speak out to condemn violence in all its forms as a means of resolving conflict; and it is time for civil society as well to be heard.
For its part, IIPT (International Institute for Peace through Tourism) stands ready to organize a high level conference in the region once the violence subsides, with the aim of developing a tourism recovery strategy.
International Institute for Peace Through Tourism