Nurturing Peace Through Tourism

 

PEACE, security and stability are the pre- requisites for economic growth and development and thus, without them, there cannot be any meaningful development in any nation.

President Rupiah Banda declared May 15 to 21, 2011 as National Peace Through Tourism Week and later Zambia held the 5th International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) African Conference.

This is the second time the country is hosting such an event, the first being in 2005.

The conference whose theme was “Meeting The Challenges of Climate Change to Tourism in Africa and the Developing World” drew local and international experts in tourism and climate change, senior executives from diverse sectors of the industry, ministers of Tourism, senior Government officials and United Nations (UN) agency representatives.

Participants were drawn from more than 30 countries and nine global regions

totaling more than 300.

The aim of the conference was to showcase models of “best practice” in mitigating and addressing the anticipated impacts of climate change to tourism in Africa and the developing world.

Its goal among other others was to demonstrate the critical linkages of climate change to sustainable tourism development, poverty reduction and peace, continue building bridges of tourism, friendship and collaboration among nations in Africa and other global regions and in support of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Gracing the conference, President Banda noted that tourism flourished where there was peace and that it was in that view that there was need to focus on ways and means to guarantee peace in Africa and the developing countries at large for tourism to grow, adding that tourists would only travel to locations where there was peace.

He observed that most international visitors had a tendency of shunning countries which were holding elections for fear of instability or bloodshed and assured them of safety in Zambia despite it holding elections this year as the past polls have been peaceful thus far.

“I therefore invite visitors from all over the world to come and

visit our beautiful country.

Your safety is guaranteed.

“Zambia’s tourism, like many, African countries, is nature-based dependent on suitable climate patterns and as such, any unnatural or abnormal climate changes will considerably impact on the tourism industry as the tourism sector is highly climate sensitive,” he stresses.

The president notes further that Government has taken climate change seriously and has put in place policies, strategies and plans to address this challenge.

Government is currently activating the national adaptation programme of action, the national policy on environment besides planning to adopt the national climate change response strategy.

First Republican president Kenneth Kaunda, who was awarded the man of peace at the 2005 IIPT conference, notes that peace has many essential aspects as it does not only mean the absence of war and conflict and that the manner in which a host nation receives foreign tourists matters as it has the potential to either attract or discourage tourists from visiting the country.

Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Catherine Namugala at the close of the conference reiterated the need to promote and preserve peace as tourism was founded on such a trait.

She observes that tourism has the potential to reduce poverty but that climate change was undermining its development.

Ms Namugala also advised the media to be patriotic by not undermining their countries as tourist destinations through negative reports, some of which were posted on the internet, which portrayed that the country was ‘on fire’ when in fact not.

She, however, expressed happiness with the local media in their efforts to bring to the fore climate change-related issues and that there was need for partnership in promoting domestic tourism.

The Zambian Government through her ministry was more that ready to building media capacity by acting as a channel through which local journalists could network with international media.

Ms Namugala and her Zimbabwean counterpart Walter Mzembi reiterated the two countries’ commitment to promoting their tourism sites as “one product” besides them bidding to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in 2013.

Youths were no exception to the conference as Gezile Phiri ably represented them by outlining ten recommendations prominent among them was the one on those calling for more science and technological innovations in a bid to find ways of reducing the impact of climate change.

The forum recommended that there was need for educational systems to

integrate climate change issues in national curricular programmes and that establishment of the Youth Chapter on IIPT in Africa and developing nations and those representatives from the Chapter should be involved in IIPT sub-committee meetings.

Issues of multimedia approaches to promoting public awareness, mitigating the driving factors of climate change and traditional approaches to preserving Bio-diversity were also discussed during the conference which culminated into a declaration dubbed: the Lusaka Declaration on Sustainable Tourism Development, Climate Change and Peace issued by IIPT founder and President Louis D’Amore to an attentive audience.

Mr D’Amore said that population growth, global consumption and global economy has stressed the earth’s ecological systems and depleted much of the world’s natural resources and owing to that, it now takes the earth one and half years to regenerate what the global population consumes in one year.

“Climate change and the combined stresses on ecological systems can hinder progress made on reducing poverty and the UN Millennium Development Goals,” he says.

He observes that travel and tourism is the largest industry in the world affecting every sector of society in virtually every nation and that it was an industry founded on peace apart from it contributing to peace and understanding, hence it having a key leadership role to play in achieving these solutions.

“Delegates to the 5th IIPT African Conference conclude that travel and tourism has a central role to play in creating jobs with dignity, foreign exchange earnings, the development of disadvantaged areas,

poverty reduction, and promotion of understanding peace, love, unity and progress among all peoples, communities and nations on the African continent, and throughout the world,” the declaration read in part.

The declaration implores all sectors of the travel and tourism industry to among others aggressively make the transition to renewable and clean energy sources as a foundation for carbon neutral development strategies embrace the wisdom, knowledge and values of indigenous people and recognise the important of the role media, educational and religious institutions as agents of change.

It also called upon the sectors to continue to implement socially and environmentally responsible tourism practices that benefit local destinations and their environments giving particular emphasis to fair trade in tourism practices, tourism that contributes to poverty reduction and tourism that contributes to restoration of ecological systems.

To governments and international development agencies, the declaration implores them to provide incentives to tourism projects that utilise green designs technologies and that contribute to creating sustainable livelihoods and poverty reduction.

Indeed peace plays a pivotal role in economic development and thus implementation of the declaration will undoubtedly greatly contribute to economic growth in form of increased tourist visitations to countries with active mitigative and adaptive climate change measures.

Failure to do so, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warns in conclusion that, “Climate change is the pre-eminent geopolitical and economic issue of the 21st century.

It rewrites the global equation for development, peace and prosperity.”