While not often living up to its promise, tourism could do much to promote global understanding. That was the theme of the "First Global Conference on Tourism – a Vital Force For Peace," held recently in Vancouver, Canada. In attendance were over 600 leaders from industry (heads of airlines and hotel chains), government (the President of Iceland served as honorary chair, while President Reagan and Pope John Paul II made personal addresses via video), academia, travel publishing, citizen diplomacy, and environmental groups, among others.
Representing 65 countries, conference-goers concluded that a healthy tourist industry requires both peace and a healthy environment. If we are to enjoy the good things in life – like travel – into the next century, the serious political, economic and environmental problems that confront humankind must be addressed now.
It is heartening to see major spokespersons for this huge global industry ($2 trillion per year, twice as large as the weapons industry) aligning themselves with both peace and sustainability. Let’s encourage other industries to follow their lead. For more information, write to First Global Conference, 3680 rue de la Montagne, Montreal, P.Q., Canada H3G 2A8.