Published on : Thursday, January 11, 2018
The outgoing Secretary-General of the UNWTO Dr. Taleb Rifai said, “The world is suffering from so many deficits and inequalities. We are suffering from economic inequalities, education deficits, technological deficits. But the most critical of all deficits is the one of tolerance and understanding and respect between people.”
A globally turbulent 2017 leaves no scope to disagree with his words.
The world feels more divided than ever and inequality continues to widen. While Asia’s rapid economic growth in the last decade has led to significant reduction in extreme poverty, it has been accompanied by growing inequality.
However, Dr. Rifai also believes that there is a remedy to this deficit, and that is tourism.
The UNWTO Asia Pacific Regional Director Xu Jing said, “Tourism is a tool for peace. Tourism is a tool for reconciliation.”
It is not a surprise that a stable political and security environment is important for a flourishing travel trade. If this can be achieved, it can allow the struggling nations to cultivate a thriving tourism industry which has the potential to transform the country and become instrumental in its development. By a comprehensive development agenda, peace will be maintained in the long-term and tourism will play a major part in that.
“If you have guys coming out of the war without a job, without prospects, without economic prosperity, then that peace cannot be sustained,” Xu believes. “We would like to think that tourism is a long-term tool for the peace process, leading towards economic prosperity.”
In many nations across Asia-Pacific, tourism has proven to be the powerhouse of development.