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    Third Australian International Peace through Tourism Conference delegates vow to spread the word

Reported by The Mole

(July 17, 2006) Delegates at the third Australian International Peace through Tourism (IIPT) Conference, the theme of which was "Tourism – Agent for Peace", held over the weekend at Sydney's Avillion Hotel, left this extremely inspiring Conference by all vowing to do something positive and tangible to spread the word of the power of peace through tourism over the coming months.

The Conference opened with a welcome from IIPT Australia President Daphne Lowe Kelley, pictured right with Conference speaker and International Coordinator for the IIPT Educators Network Ian Kelly, who emphasised the IIPT credo of the peaceful traveller, which can be seen at and its significant position in travel and tourism globally, while stressing the requirement for IIPT to secure greater industry support globally to achieve its goals.

Sponsors of the Conference which included Qantas, The Avillion Hotel, The Intrepid Traveller, Australian Pinnacle Tours, HIS, Touchdown Tours, Middle East Tours (Australia) and media partner TravelMole were thanked for their support, but increased support on an ongoing basis was required.

The Conference was honoured by the presence of Louis D'Amore, IIPT Founder and Global President of IIPT, whose travel to Australia from North America had been generously sponsored by Qantas.

Mr D'Amore emphasised that this was the 20th Anniversary of the formation of IIPT, which was founded in 1986 in the UN International Year of Peace, established with the purpose of promoting a "higher purpose" of tourism and the potential of global tourism contributing to a better world.  Other Peace through Tourism Conferences have been held including a Global Summit in Pattaya in Thailand last year with an MoU being signed between the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the Africa Travel Association.

The Keynote Speaker, Mike Hatton the CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents opened his presentation with the words, "When one looks back over the last six years in particular, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the word "peace" had disappeared from the English language".

"Not only have we seen the rise of terrorism on a global scale with events such as 9/11, Bali, Madrid, London and Mumbai, but we have also seen war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the last two or three days, again fighting in the Middle East".  "All of this has been coupled with accusations from major world powers centred around statements such as "the axis of evil".

He added, "As we all know, for every action there is a reaction and in a political sense this is what we have witnessed over the past decade – and unfortunately it does not seem that this tone of speech and aggressive attitude is going to cease as we move forward". 

"Of course, such a scenario does not bode well for tourism and as this background evolves, governments take action through travel advisory mechanisms and other avenues to deter Australians travelling to those parts of the world which are affected." 

He said, "It is, however, interesting to note that recent research has indicated that Australian tourists have a somewhat fatalistic approach to travel these days and as such adopt the attitude that they will go anyway as all they are dealing with is a different landscape".

He added, "Tourism has become one of the major economic foreign currency earners for just about every government and country on the face of this earth.  As such, countries vie with one another and spend huge amounts of money to attract inbound tourists irrespective of the political or economic situation which may exist within their borders".

Mr Hatton closed his presentation with a rallying call, "Yes, tourism is an agent for peace and one which we all should nurture and promote and allow to evolve in a peaceful way".   "We here in this generation may not see the end benefit and result of the labours that we put in place at this time and that result may well come as the inheritance that we leave behind for those who come after us". 

"It has always been my belief all of my working life that we must strive to leave behind a better and improved situation than the one which was originally inherited.  If we as members of the global tourism industry adopt that principle and apply that principle in our activities and in the promotion of our industry, then for the generations ahead peace will become a much more relevant outcome than what it has been for those of us who have lived over the last half century".

The Conference was also honoured by the presence of His Excellency Hernani Coelho Da Silva, the very recently appointed Ambassador to Australia of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, who was accompanied by Mr Alexander Wellsman, Principal Advisor to the Consulate General of Timor-Leste in Sydney. 

The Ambassador provided a very enlightening summary of the current position in Timor-Leste, how much work was to be done and how much help they were going to need to develop appropriately and sustainably and that the three pillars for the future of the country were agriculture, oil and gas and tourism.

His Excellency is pictured with IIPT President Daphne Lowe Kelley and IIPT Founder and International President Lois D'Amour.

Conference session themes and speakers included: -

The Travel Industry Operators and Agents perspective which was very well covered by Jaqui Preketes from Touchdown Tours speaking about Agents for Peace: Challenges and Potentials and Georgina Pickers a well known travel agent from Queensland, speaking about a Travel Agent's responsibility and the potential pitfalls;

An excellent presentation on the Role of Regional and Multinational Associations in Peace Tourism was made by David Beirman, the internationally acclaimed tourism crisis specialist, particularly relevant bearing in mind the current issues in the Middle East, his former role as the head of the recently closed Israel National Tourism Office in Australia, his pivotal role in establishing the Eastern Mediterranean Travel Association in Australia and his current role as Marketing Manager for the Greece and Mediterranean Travel Centre. David (left) is pictured with Conference speaker Matt McDonell form Wagga Wagga.

Volunteer Tourism, a growing sector of the industry was covered by Mia Nahm, Industry Placement Manager at Kenvale College of Tourism and Hospitality Management, who also brought along one of the College's students, Cassandra Hawden who made an excellent presentation about her volunteer placement over a number of years in a disadvantaged community in Tasmania, revealing that the elements and benefits of peace through tourism do not have to be overseas.

Community Project Travel - travel with a difference was inspiringly covered with excellent images by Richard Cunningham, pictured left with Mia Nahm.  Richard, formerly with Peregrine Tours but now with World Expeditions gave an excellent  presentation about all the locations in the world where travellers can also volunteer to actually be involved in a project, an example is pictured below, giving something back to the communities and localities they visit.

Dr Deborah Edwards spoke about Community Volunteers as silent agents for Peace, expressing how much of society's work is undertaken by volunteers and in particular in tourism, making a very significant contribution to the economic, social and environmental sustainability of the communities and regions in which they are located.

The Conference also enjoyed a series of highly enlightening interactive panel sessions led by Dr Lynda-ann Blanchard, with Trevor Lake representing Sellers speaking about his experiences from Bhutan to North Korea, Matt McDonell representing Organisations speaking about marketing peace, Garth Lean representing Buyers speaking about Transformative Peace and the creation of Ambassadors for Peace and Sustainability and Ian Kelly representing Hosts speaking about Tourism and the Community, a New Paradigm.  This session also included several Graduate students from the new Peace through Tourism Winter School Programme at the University of Sydney.

The Conference summary was eloquently and appropriately undertaken by Dr Larry Dwyer, Qantas Professor of Travel and Tourism Economics at the University of New South Wales, who summarised all the very high quality conference presentations providing the clear message that while tremendous progress had been made in establishing the ethos and credo of Peace through Tourism, there was much more to be done, much more to be achieved and that to do so, significantly greater Australian and global support was going to have to be secured, closing that it was the responsibility of all at the Conference to do so.

John Alwyn-Jones, Conference MC and Facilitator on behalf of Conference media sponsors TravelMole, in closing the Conference urged all delegates to leave the conference vowing to do something positive and tangible to spread the word of the power of Peace through Tourism over the coming months and to let the President of IIPT Australia, Daphne Lowe Kelley know what tangible and positive action they would be taking.  

He also stressed the need for much greater industry participation, which is something TravelMole committed to work on in the coming months.


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