(Sydney, Australia, 28 September 2007) The stark
realities of conflict situations and the impact on
tourism were vividly illustrated in presentations made
at a World Tourism Day event organized by
in conjunction with
Australia Travel and Tourism
Intrepid Travel. Post
conflict transition consultant and Commonwealth scholar,
Nimalan Karthikeyan, spoke about the situation in Sri
Lanka and Intrepid Travel’s Responsible Travel Manager,
Jane Crouch, about her experiences in East Timor.
As designated by the World Tourism
Organization (UNWTO), the main purpose of World Tourism
Day (27 September) is to foster awareness among the
international community of the importance of tourism and
its social, cultural, political and economic values.
Each year there is a different host country and theme –
this year’s host country was Sri Lanka (an active UNWTO
Member for 30 years) with the theme, Tourism opens doors
Both speakers spoke about the potential and economic
importance of tourism, the role and position of women in
society and how tourism could open doors for women and
provide additional income to help support families.
However, progress in recent times has been significantly
negated by the internal conflicts in both countries.
Karthikeyan pointed out that Sri Lanka’s patriarchal
society already presented difficulties for women, but
this paled in significance when compared to the major
problems resulting from the internal conflict in Sri
Lanka’s northeast, where there are 47,500 war widows and
30,000 households headed by a female.
In a country that had been traumatized by conflict
for so long, Crouch spoke about her post independence
discussions with the East Timorese to discover their
attitudes towards tourism. She then accompanied the
first small group of travellers to East Timor in May
2003 and subsequent groups organized by Intrepid Travel.
Last year, Crouch took long service leave and went as an
Australian Volunteer International to assist the Timor
Leste Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the development of
tourism. Unfortunately, with the outbreak of internal
conflict and fighting she had to be evacuated after only
However, she later returned to East Timor to work as PA
for Timor Leste’s First Lady, Kirsty Sword Gusmao and
her Alola Foundation, which assists women and children.
Once again, as in Sri Lanka, armed conflicts result in a
growing number of widows and children who have lost
their breadwinners. Added to the problems associated
with the loss of husbands and fathers, is that most
Timorese families are large with 8-10 children.
In his WTD Message, UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco
Frangialli said, “One of the most important
characteristics of tourism is its great capacity to
create employment for women and for youth and
particularly at a community level in poor countries.
This is a major potential for responding to the war on
IIPT Australian president Daphne Lowe Kelley stressed
the importance of building a culture of peace and not
war, and that building a culture of peace through
tourism is a journey that the travel and tourism
industry could take in helping to make a more peaceful,
just and sustainable world for all.
Since its formation in 1986, IIPT Founder and President
Louis D’Amore has led the way in promoting a “higher
purpose” of tourism, with the belief that Travel and
Tourism can be the world’s first global peace industry
and every traveller is potentially an Ambassador for
About International Institute for Peace through Tourism
IIPT is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism
initiatives which contribute to international
understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of
environment, the preservation of heritage, and poverty
reduction, and through these initiatives, help bring
about a more peaceful and sustainable world.