With terror and security scares against tourists filling many headlines in the past few months, the World Travel & Tourism Council has launched a new report quantifying for the first time the links between tourism and peace.
While tourism has often been recognised for its ability to drive peace, security and understanding, to date, there has been little empirical evidence to support this link.
The report, Tourism as a Driver for Peace, conducted with the Institute of Economics and Peace, the world’s pre-eminent think tank measuring peace, shows how important an open and sustainable tourism sector can be for the levels of peace in a country.
Countries with more open and sustainable tourism sectors have higher levels of peace and lower levels of conflict and violence.
Increases in tourism sustainability can lead to improvements in the functioning of governments.
As governments respond to tourism demand and create a welcoming environment for further tourism expansion, this ultimately increases future peace, the report states.
Over the last decade the world has become increasingly unequal in terms of its levels of peacefulness, with the most peaceful countries enjoying increasing levels of peace and prosperity, while the least peaceful countries are facing greater levels of violence and conflict.
This research shows that the more sustainable and open a country’s tourism sector, the less peace levels have declined.
Even in conflict-affected countries, all of which saw their levels of peace drop in the period between 2008 and 2015, those that had more open and sustainable tourism saw a significantly lower drop in peace than countries with less sustainable tourism sectors.
David Scowsill, president, WTTC, said: “Travel’s economic impact is now well established and widely recognised, and governments around the world are increasingly looking to the sector to provide livelihoods and jobs, and drive economic development.
“However, the benefits of tourism as a force for good, its ability to bring peace, security and understanding have been harder to quantify.
“I am delighted that this research now shows that tourism does have a strong link to creating peaceful societies.”