The UNWTO ‘Conference on Tourism, Religions and Dialogue of Cultures’ which is taking place in Cordoba, Spain, underscores tourism’s potential to advance intercultural dialogue. “Tourists and visitors can become the connecting thread between cultures, bring economic development to remote or depressed regions, and reduce prejudice, distrust and hostility”, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a special message delivered at the opening of the event.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon endorsed this first ever initiative and said “I strongly support the work of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, our most recent specialized agency, to promote peace and mutual understanding through the responsible and sustainable development of tourism. I commend UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, which includes guidelines for reaching that goal.”
In an opening message, his Excellency Mr. Jorge Sampaio, High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations of the UN said that “This meeting could not have been convened at a more relevant time, given the current state of the world. From all directions, we are confronted with rising intolerance, a shift toward increasingly hostile attitudes, and global instability. From a sustainable development viewpoint, an appropriate management of tourism should tend to reinforce its role as a powerful means to promote dialogue and understanding worldwide as well as to help consolidating stability and peace.”
UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli said that “tourism is much more than just an economic matter. It shares with the great religions its environmental, social, ethical and cultural content. Tourism and religions share the use of the same cultural heritage built up in a complex relationship that is both constructive and conflictive at the same time.”
Convened by UNWTO with the support of the Government of Spain, this first ever Conference on this issue brings together around 300 participants from over 80 countries, including public and private stakeholders, the academic community and religious leaders from all faiths.
The three-day international event concludes on 31 October after having addressed the interrelations between tourism and religions from three different but complementary angles:
- Dialogue of civilizations
- Religious tourism; and
- Sustainability of religious tourism destinations.