The tourism industry is among the fastest growing industries in the world (Kester 2014). According to Horner and Swarbrooke (2016, p 32), tourism involves travelling for pleasure to places outside an individual’s usual environment. Tourism can either be domestic or international. Tourism is an essential life activity because it directly affects the economic, social, cultural and educational sectors. A majority of countries depend on tourism as one of the core sources of foreign exchange and income. However, tourism can be used for a greater good of humanity like promoting peace in the world (Kester 2014). In the argument of Barash and Webel (2013) peace is a term used to refer to the situations where there is no violence or conflicts. Tourism can be used to reduce the root causes of conflicts in situations likely to degenerate into conflicts and violence (Pernecky 2013). This essay critically analyses the potential of tourism as a force for peace.
The prominence of tourism has contributed to the recent interest by scholars and other professionals’ in tourism as a potential for peacemaking (Miller, Rojek & Urry 2014). Tourism involves bringing people together, embracing the connectedness of all things and people as well as learning about each other. Tourism plays a vital role in bringing the hosts and the guest together to learn about peace by appreciating and understanding diverse cultural values and beliefs and through connection with the natural word like wildlife, oceans, mountains and the waterfalls (Pizam 2006).
According to Miller, et al., (2014) people who have interacted with different people of different background and cultures are more tolerable than people who have not interacted a lot. However, there is an argument that tourism is a beneficiary of peace and not a generator of peace. The assumption is based on the argument that tourism cannot exist without peace. Though true, the role of tourism in creating a peaceful co-existence between people of different nations cannot be underestimated (Pratt & Liu 2016).
In the argument of Hall, Timothy & Duval (2004), tourism has the ability to drive peace, understanding and security. According to research, countries with a sustainable and more open tourism sector are more likely to experience high levels of positive peace (Hall, et al 2004). As such, tourism plays an important role in fostering peace and reconciliation among people and nations. For example, tourism contributed to the changes in the political relationship between China and the USA (Fan 2005).
D'Amore (2008) argues that tourism is a major contributor to building trust and goodwill among people. The understanding of cultural beliefs helps change the attitudes and create a peaceful co-existence. The role of tourism in building peace is enhanced through its contribution to cultural preservation, environmental conservation and poverty alleviation. Tourism also acts as a crucial tool in reconciliation efforts after the war. In post-conflict societies, capacity building and training, community empowerment and engagement as well as private-public partnerships are some of the important factors in promoting a culture of peace through tourism.
The proponents of peace tourism argue that it helps maintain peaceful co-existence among people of different culture, race, religion and nationalities. It also suppresses the tension that may exist between different people and nations. Tourism promotes global peace in the following ways;
Promote National Integration
According to Birch (2009, p. 23), National integration is the process of unifying people from the various background into one people. Conflicts within a country are likely to be motivated by the social differences. For example, the process of national integration can create a feeling of oneness between Muslims and the Christians as well as other religion or to reduce wars and conflicts between communities. In the argument of Prayag and Das (2016) tourism is not just an industry that earns revenue for the government but also it is used to promote national integration. Birch (2009) argues that tourism can be used to reduce animosity among religions by unifying people of different religions. For example, tourism can be used to bring Muslims and Christians together. Therefore, it is a strong weapon which if effectively used can enhance national understanding and help promote national integration.
Creation of Employment Opportunities
According to Webster and Ivanov (2013) being engaged in a productive engagement is one of the factors contributing to a happy life. Webster and Ivanov (2013) argue that a job defines an individual position in the society. The lack of employment opportunities can have dire consequences on society like depression; and if not addressed it can result in conflicts and violence in the society. For example, the terrorist usually target unemployed youths to recruitment into terrorism. Lack of employment especially among the youth is a major threat to peace in any country and even globally. Tourism creates employment opportunities in an economy, thus, reducing the threats of unemployment (Vanhove 2011).
According to Leiper (2015) in Australia, tourism has directly employed more than 150, 000 people. It is likely that weren’t it for tourism all these people would be unemployed and would be forced to engage in criminal activities like stealing and terrorism. It has also created business opportunities for thousands of people worldwide. In the absence of tourism, a lot of people would be unemployed. Increase in the unemployment levels is likely to contribute to increased criminal activities. Tourism engages people in meaningful activities and helps reduce the criminal activities and conflicts associated with unemployment.
Opportunity to Learn Cultural Differences
Robinson and Boniface (2009) argue that most of the cultural conflicts are as a result of lack of understanding of the other people culture and beliefs. Cultural conflicts occur when people consider the traditions and beliefs of another cultural group as a challenge to their traditions and beliefs. Providing an opportunity for people to learn and understand other people’s culture and beliefs could potentially ease cultural conflicts. For example, the cultural conflict between the Jews, Christians and the Muslims is largely fuelled by ignorance of others cultural values and beliefs. Cultural tourism offers an opportunity to learn and appreciate the cultural practices of others. Learning the cultural practises and beliefs of others helps overcome cultural ignorance that lead to conflicts (Robinson & Boniface 2009). As such, tourism provides an opportunity to learn new cultures and beliefs which as a result eases cultural conflicts.
Promote Social Equality
According to Peters (2004), one of the factors contributing to war and conflicts especially in the developing countries is the unequal distribution of wealth. Developing countries have a high risk of civil war than the developed countries. For example, a country with a $ 250 GDP per capita has a 15% chance of being involved in a civil war (Peters 2004). Peters (2004) further argues that the high risk of civil war in the developing countries is as a result of inequality distribution of resources, especially in the rural areas. The rural areas are less developed and characterised with high poverty levels. The unequal distribution of wealth creates tension which if not addressed is likely to lead to war or conflicts in a country. Peters (2004) claim that tourism promotes the process of wealth distribution, and capital formation, and provides an opportunity for infrastructure development in the rural areas. The infrastructure developments result in increased employment opportunities for the local people. Social inequalities if not checked can easily degenerate into conflicts. As such, it is important to promote social equality as a means to reducing internal fighting especially in the developing countries. Tourism is a significant factor in ensuring social equality and in uplifting the living conditions of rural people which reduce structural violence.
Globally, Tourism is a major driver of economic development in most countries and it has contributed to 9.8% of the global GDP and created 10% of jobs in the global economy in the year 2014 (Lew 2015). Lew (2015) claims that over the years, tourism has notably continued to grow, thus, contributing to a significant portion of the global economic development. According to Peters (2004) studies show a close relationship between violent conflicts and economy. Conflicts occur as a result of an economic factor like poverty, which forces society to go into a conflict. Economic growth reduces the poverty levels in a country and is associated with low level of conflicts. Tourism being one of the factors contributing significantly to economic development acts as an agent to prevent conflict. In many countries, it has significantly contributed to the economic development. Economic development reduces the chances of war and conflicts likely to occur due to under development.
Promotion of Cultural Exchange
Newman (2009, p. 123) argue that one of the root causes of war and also conflicts is the cultural barriers among different communities and people. Breaking the cultural barrier can help promote peaceful co-existence among different communities. According to Ap and Var (2010), tourism encourages cultural exchange and break the cultural barrier that may exist between nations and people. Through cultural exchange people and nations appreciate the cultural practices of others. Over the centuries, international interactions have experienced many changes. The best bridge between different cultures is the cultural exchange. The Cultural Exchange provides an opportunity for people to better understand different cultures as well as the desires and motivations of various cultures. Tourism enables people to visit different places and learn new cultures. As a result, it promotes mutually beneficial relations and interactions between people of different nations and cultures.
According to McDonald and Bendahmane (2007), Diplomacy has an important role in avoiding war between nations. Poor Diplomatic relationship increase tension and can generate war and also conflicts among countries and people. McDonald and Bendahmane (2007) further argue that diplomacy helps in creating a culture of peace between countries. Tourism enhances diplomacy by improving citizen –to-government, government-to-government, and citizen-to-citizen relationships (Fan 2005). Fan (2005) further argues that these types of relationship help supplement the high-level government diplomacy. As a result, tourism contributes to the improvement of relationships internationally at all levels. Improving relationships between different people and different nations is important in ensuring peaceful co-existence among people and nations.
The Concept of Peace Tourism
According to Miller, et al., (2014) the recent interest in tourism as a means of promoting peace and combating conflicts has led to the development of Peace tourism concept. The concept of peace tourism is intended to reduce the causes of conflicts and create solutions to the violence perceived situations (Blanchard & Higgins-Desbiolles 2013). Blanchard & Higgins-Desbiolles (2013) argue that the aim of the peace tourism is to create positive peace and sustainable development through the tourism industry. One of the advantages of peace tourism is that it can be used to prevent structural violence, mostly associated with prolonged conflicts. As such, it is relevant in the structural prevention of conflicts rather than direct conflicts. The structural prevention of conflict relates to establishing measures that prevent the worsening or development of the causes of conflicts. It is important to note that, tourism is a different form of conflict prevention, unlike direct prevention which involves arbitration, mediation and negotiations.
Tourism being a structural prevention method is synonymous with building lasting peace solutions that address the cultural, social and economic factors. If these factors are not addressed, they have the potential of causing conflicts and violence in the long run. Ensuring proper management of the tourism projects contribute to the peaceful co-existence by reducing the structural causes of violence (Litvin 2008). Addressing the structural causes of conflicts can help in promoting peace.
According to Litvin (2008) the tourism peace theory provides insight on how tourism helps in suppressing conflicts. The tourism peace model emphasises on the benefits of sustainable and cooperative economic, cultural and political policies with the objective of eliminating cultural, structural and direct violence. Peace tourism emphasises more on the importance of positive peace rather than just eliminating direct violence. The concept of peace tourism has helped cross the regional, race and ethnic boundaries, thus, fostering global peace.
The world is continuously faced with the threat of conflicts and war. For this reason, appropriate measures must be put in place with the aim of reducing the causes of conflicts and violence. Addressing the root causes of the conflicts is the best long term strategy of overcoming the threat of war and conflicts facing the world. Tourism is one of the strategies increasingly gaining recognition as a means of addressing the root causes of conflicts and violence in the world. The proponents of peace tourism argue that tourism can be used to address the social, economic and environmental factors likely to ignite conflicts and violence. One of the benefits of tourism is its ability to unite people of different background and to create a feeling of oneness. Though, peace tourism is a relatively new concept it is a power weapon in promoting global peace. Peace emphasises on the benefits of sustainable and cooperative economic, cultural and political policies with the objective of eliminating cultural, structural and direct violence.
Ap, J. & Var, T. (2010). Does tourism promote world peace?. Tourism Management, 11(3), pp.267-273.
Barash, D.P. & Webel, C.P. (2013). Peace and conflict studies. SAGE Publications, Incorporated.
Birch, A.H. (2009). Nationalism and national integration. Psychology Press.
Blanchard, L.A. & Higgins-Desbiolles, F. (2013). Peace through tourism: Promoting human security through international citizenship (Vol. 39). Routledge.
D'Amore, L.J. (2008). Tourism—A vital force for peace. Tourism Management, 9(2), pp.151-154.
Fan, S.P. (2005). A policy analysis on China's tourism-based diplomacy: A case study of outbound tourism developments. Mainland China Studies, 48(2), p.61
Hall, C.M., Timothy, D.J. & Duval, D.T. (2004). Security and tourism: towards a new understanding?. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing, 15(2-3), pp.1-18.
Horner, S. &Swarbrooke, J. (2016). Consumer behaviour in tourism. Routledge.
Kester, J.G. (2014). 2013 International Tourism Results and Prospects for 2014. UNWTO News.
Leiper, N. (2015). A conceptual analysis of tourism-supported employment which reduces the incidence of exaggerated, misleading statistics about jobs. Tourism Management, 20(5), pp.605-613.
Lew, A.A., (2015). Tourism's role in the global economy. Tourism Geographies, 13(1), pp.148-151.
Litvin, S.W., (2008). Tourism: The world's peace industry?. Journal of Travel Research, 37(1), pp.63-66.
McDonald, J.W. & Bendahmane, D.B. eds. (2007). Conflict resolution: Track two diplomacy. Foreign Service Institute, US Dept. of State.
Miller, H., Rojek, C. & Urry, J. (2014). Tourism and Peace–an Emerging Field of Action and Research. and Peace, p.17.
Newman, J.S. (2009). Understanding international conflicts. Longman.
Pernecky, T. (2013). Re-examining the ability of mass tourism to promote peace. CAUTHE 2013: Tourism and Global Change: On the Edge of Something Big, p.604.
Peters, P.E. (2004). Inequality and social conflict over land in Africa. Journal of Agrarian Change, 4(3), pp.269-314.
Pizam, A. (2006). Does tourism promote peace and understanding between unfriendly nations. Tourism, crime and international security issues, pp.203-213.
Pratt, S. & Liu, A. (2016). Does tourism really lead to peace? A global view. International Journal of Tourism Research, 18(1), pp.82-90.
Prayag, G. & Das, S. (2016). Tourism in India. The Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Asia.
Robinson, M. & Boniface, P. (2009). Tourism and cultural conflicts. CAB International.
Vanhove, N. (2011). Tourism and employment. International Journal of Tourism Management, 2(3), pp.162-175.
Webster, C. & Ivanov, S.H. (2013). Tourism as a force for political stability. The International Handbook on “Tourism and Peace”(Forthcoming).