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Travel – the Gateway to Peace and Prosperity
The more people travel, the more they harbour understanding and tolerance. It’s simple. Yet again this year at ITB Berlin, the fact that tourism is a driver of peace has been hammered home. Already underlined at the opening press conference by Messe Berlin Dr Christian Göke, the theme was the topic of a keynote by Jane Sun, CEO of Ctrip International, entitled “Travel: A Gateway to Global Peace and Prosperity.”
Indeed, for some, travel is an expensive luxury good, while for others it is an escape from their everyday lives. But travel is much more than just transporting, accommodating and entertaining customers. From acquiring souvenirs to gaining mutual understanding, travel brings the world closer with every heart-to-heart communication acting as a form of cultural exchange.
Two years ago, the former secretarygeneral of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai said, “We face a deficit of tolerance. Tourism brings people together; it opens our minds and hearts.”
According to Jane Sun, the mission of travel companies must be to make travelling easier and worry-free and to thus help each traveller become an ambassador of their own cultural identity. By doing this we can promote the respect and understanding of different cultures and at the same time generate economic, environmental and social benefits for local people.
During Sun’s presentation this week, she defined peace as a state without conflict. She emphasised that when people focus on short-term interests, conflicts inevitably occur. Forming long term, win-win cooperation instead of zero-sum competition is the key to avoiding conflicts and promoting peace. At the core, the key to achieving winwin cooperation is based on mutual understanding.
She states “travel connects people with places, experiences and memories, people meet different people through travel, experience different cultures and understand different values,” she said. “Each traveller deepens their understanding of other cultures through their experiences.”
With travel as the key to invigorating understanding, peace and prosperity will naturally follow.
Richard Barnes Editor-in-Chief, ITB Berlin News