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Jordan's King Abdullah II says Global Summit challenges current Middle East turbulence By 'Building Bridges, Healing Wounds'

    AMMAN, Jordan (Nov. 9, 2000)  -- Jordan's King Abdullah ll, in a message to 450 delegates attending today's opening session of the first Global Summit on Peace through Tourism, said "the time is now for the entire world to hear your message of peace and reconciliation echo loud" at a time "when we are being reminded by persistent images of painful suffering that justice delayed is tantamount to its denial." 

    The king said in a written statement delivered by Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb that "the dove of peace" is looking for refuge from the "unfulfilled promises of peace," adding that the current turbulence in the region threatens to throw the Middle East "back into the abyss." 

    He said the summit message "challenges the bitter reality of hatred and builds bridges, heals wounds, and advocates a better and safer future."  The king said he was confident the Amman Declaration on Peace through Tourism, to be issued at the conclusion of the Global Summit tomorrow, would reflect positive expectations for peace and "live up to the vision of the future that we all aspire to realize." 

    The king, Royal Patron of the Global Summit, told the travel and tourism leaders and tourism ministers from 60 countries that "an appropriate political and economic framework" with agreement by countries to co-exist peacefully is a pre-requisite for promoting understanding, trust and goodwill around the world. He called for a "singular code of conduct" based on "effective governance, democratic accountability, and private enterprise.”

    He said that countries viewing tourism as a means of international cooperation in addition to an economic growth vehicle would reach tourism's full potential.  Private sector investment, management and operations are essential for economic development, the King said. 

    Jordan has based its tourism strategy on cooperation regionally and beyond.  "Tourism and travel are global by definition and by nature," the king said, "and cannot thrive in any other alternative environment."  He said that the Jordan model could become "a pillar in the peace building structure of the Middle East." 

    Prime Minister Abu Ragheb was introduced by Jordan's Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Akel Biltaji who said summit delegates committed to the "safety, comfort, and movement of people" through tourism were well positioned to fulfill the late King Hussein's commitment to peace for the current and future generations.       

    Louis D’Amore, President and Founder of the IIPT, in welcoming travel industry leaders and delegates from 60 countries at the opening Plenary, stated that “every tourist is potentially an ambassador for Peace and with this summit we have the possibility to launch tourism as a Global Peace Industry.” D’amore noted that the very fact that the World Travel &Tourism Council (WTTC) held an Executive Committee meeting, chaired by American Express Chairman & CEO, Harvey Golub, conjunction with the Summit; and 18 Ministers of Tourism from the World Tourism Organization held joint industry government pre-summit meetings, demonstrated the strong commitment of the World’s largest industry for a continuation of the peace process in the Middle East and other regions of the world; and in support of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace. 

    Harvey Golub, Chairman & CEO of American Express in his Global Summit Address, explained that he was addressing delegates in three different roles: first, as Chairman of the World Tourism and Travel Council, an organization that works with governments around the world to better understand the economic potential of travel and tourism and to foster policies capitalizing on that potential; second, in his capacity as Chairman of American Express; and third, as a dedicated tourist.  

    He said, "We know the benefits our industry brings to a country.,  we know that travel and tourism does contribute to both economic development and personal understanding, two conditions that are prerequisites to maintaining peace.  Once a cycle of conflict is ended, stability is needed -- the stability of governments, economies and personal intentions that will hopefully make the recurrence of war less likely. And those are conditions travel and tourism can impact."   

    He went on to explain his strong feelings about what travel can do to help sustain a state of peace.  "The most important lesson travel can teach us is not about our differences, but about our similarities...whenever and wherever I go, I find this belief gets reinforced time and time again.   Helping people come to this realization on their own is the first step toward tolerance.  And that is what travel and tourism excels at -- opening not just eyes, but minds and hearts.  The American author Mark Twain wrote in his book  Innocents Abroad  that 'travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow mindedness.'  I would say he got it right."

    The significance of holding the Global Summit in Amman at this time of conflict in the Middle East was reflecting in many of the other Plenary Addresses. Nelson Mandela, Former President of the Republic of South Africa and noble peace prize laureate, unable to be in Amman due to illness, stated in an address read by H.E. Dr. Vincent Zulu, South African Ambassador to Jordan, “Nowhere can the urgent need for lasting and just peace be more forcefully demonstrated than currently in this region.” He further noted that “We must find the means to create a universal climate and mindset of peace. In that way we shall also be influencing those situations where there is no peace. The idea of tourism as a global peace industry is one such exciting initiative. 

    United Nations Under-Secretary-General Joseph Verner Reed, reading from a statement prepared by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan praised Summit participants.  "It does you credit that, in spite of [these adversed conditions], you are going ahead with your Global Summit on Peace Through Tourism.  Indeed, this is a time when no stone should be left unturned in the search for peace.  To think of tourism at a time of so much suffering in the region may seem callous.  Yet tourism should be encouraged as a way to make peoples in different parts of the world more aware of each other's problems and points of view.  And tourism has a vital role to play in the economy of the Middle East -- not least in Jordan, a country whose tourist industry is as thriving as it is unique."

    Featured Plenary speakers on Wednesday, November 9 and Thursday, November 10, will include Harvey Golub, Chairman and CEO, American Express; Mr. Nelson Mandela former President, Republic of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Hon. Mary Robinson, Chairman, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; His Serene Highness Crown Prince Albert of Monaco; Jean Claude Baumgarten, President, World Travel & Tourism Council; Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General, World Tourism Organization; M.P. Bezbaruah, Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association and Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, India; Dr. Maritta-Koch-Weser, Director General, World Conservation Union; Hon. Michael Afedi Gizo, President, Africa Travel Association and Minister of Tourism, Ghana; Hon. Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations; Jean Louis Sarbib, Vice President World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region. H.E. Akel Biltaji, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is Master of Ceremonies; James M. Li, Executive Vice President, American Express and Chairman, MEMTTA Americas, Plenary Moderator; Louis J. D'Amore, Founder and President, IIPT, Summit Chair; and Dr. Noel Brown, President, Friends of the United Nations, Summit Secretary General. 

    Pre- Summit Activities

    Pre-Summit activities included a Ministers' Roundtable on the "Role of Governments in Building a Culture of Peace through Tourism"; the inaugural meeting of the IIPT Coalition of Partners for World Peace through Tourism as well as the inaugural meetings of IIPT's four international networks (Educators, Rural and Community, Spiritual and Indigenous; and a Regional Educators meeting.  "Open Space" will be provided for other groups wishing to meet around common interests.

    Summit Highlights

    The Summit began at 3:30 p.m. on November 8 with an Spiritual Gathering at Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of Christ's baptism visited by Pope John Paul ll during his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The Dead Sea was the dramatic setting for the welcome reception the same evening, sponsored by Zara Investments and Movenpick Hotels & Resorts at the Movenpick's Dead Sea resort.

    The opening day lunch, sponsored by Air Harbour Technologies, was dedicated to the presentation of the first King Hussein Tourism Awards, presented to the individual and to the organization with outstanding achievement in contribution to the vision of "Tourism as a Global Peace Industry." HRH Prince Ra’ed Bin Zied presented the Awards. The first Award was presented to Dr. Ju-Yung Chung, Founder and Chairman Emiritus of Korea’s Hyundai Business Group for the development of the scenic Mt. Kumgang Region as a tourist resort and industrial resort which opened to the public in November 1998 in South Korea. Accepting the Award on his behalf was the Korean ambassador to Jordan, H.E. Jone Hwa Choe. The second Award was presented to the Rebuild Dubrovnik Fund. H.E. Madam Pave Zupan Ruskovic, Minister of Tourism for Croatia, as a co-founder of the Rebuild Dubrovnik Fund, accepted the award on behalf of the Rebuild Dubrovnik Fund. Also present at the ceremony was Earlene Causey, who then, as President of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), was a co-founder and President of the Fund.

    In the evening, a Reception and Gala Banquet, hosted by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, will showcase "Jordan, The Cradle of Civilization."  

    Summit sponsors, in addition to Title Sponsor, American Express, include Gold Sponsor, Air Harbour Technologies; Silver Sponsors, Archaeology Magazine, Bass Hotels & Resorts, International Traders, Movenpick Hotels & Resorts, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Zara Investments; Bronze Sponsors, ASTA Agency Management, b-there.com, Leisure Travel News, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Travel Counselor and Travel World News.         

    The IIPT is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, preservation of heritage, and a peaceful, sustainable world.    

    Royal Jordanian Airlines is the official air carrier for the Summit; Austrian Airlines is a cooperating carrier. Grand Hyatt Amman is the Summit Headquarter Hotel; other Summit Hotels include Amman Marriott Hotel, Radisson SAS Hotel Amman, and Amman Inter-Continental Hotel. International Traders, Amman, is providing Conference Management services. 

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    International Institute for Peace Through Tourism