Tourism an effective tool for peace: experts

Bhubaneswar: Tourism could be an effective tool for establishment of peace as people to people contact could be the best way to prevent conflict, experts at an international symposium on tourism said here on Monday.

“Every tourist is a potential ambassador for peace and though tourism may not be able to stop wars, it could certainly prevent them,” Prof Ajay Prakash, President of the Indian Chapter of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), said while speaking at the inaugural function of the three-day “International Symposium on Fostering Tourism for Global Peace” at the SOA University.

The symposium has been jointly organized by the faculty of Hospitality and Tourism Management of SOA University, the IIPT and Indian Tourism and Hospitality Congress (ITHC).

Pointing out that tourism was a huge industry which provided job to one out of every 11 employed persons, Prakash said the IIPT planned to set up a Centre of Excellence in Bhubaneswar in collaboration with the SOA University to churn out future leaders for the tourism industry.

Prof Sandeep Kulshreshtha, Director of the Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), Gwalior, who was one of the guests of honour, said tourism being linked to leisure and pleasure, it fostered peace and happiness.

The IITTM, he said, was presently in the process of training one lakh volunteers in the country who would be engaged as ‘paryatak mitra’ (friends of tourists).

MP Prasanna Kumar Patsani said countries like Switzerland, Austria, Australia and Taiwan had economically developed because they promoted tourism.

Joe Borg Olivier, former President of the United Federation of Travel Agents’ Associations (UFTAA), who also attended the symposium, urged students of hospitality and tourism management to be professionals as “there is no space for amateurs in our trade”.

Stating that tourism could not thrive without peace, he said the industry itself had the potential to be the ‘harbinger of peace’.

Prof Rana PB Singh of the Department of Geography at the Benaras Hindu University, delivered the key note address.

Presiding over the inaugural function, Prof (Dr) Amit Banerjee, Vice-Chancellor of the SOA University, said tourism could foster peace. The absence of peace had seriously affected the development of nations as had been witnessed in Croatia, Sri Lanka and several other countries.

This symposium, he said, could cause a paradigm shift in peoples’ perception of tourism.

Prof Sitikantha Mishra, Dean and Advisor, School of Hotel Management under SOA University, focused on the theme of the symposium while Prof BB Pradhan, Registrar of the University proposed the vote of thanks.