Understanding Travelers Philanthropy

Nobel Peace Prize for Tourism Urged

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OSLO, Norway (June 1, 2007)

Speaking to reporters about the recent Global Ecotourism conference in Norway (May 14-16, 2007), the head of an international development agency confirmed his call for the Nobel Peace Prize to recognize the linkages between sustainable tourism and peace.

Noting “tourism is the only real peace dividend”, Lelei LeLaulu, president of the non-profit Counterpart International called on the Nobel Peace Prize committee, which convenes in Norway, to seriously look at how tourism prevents conflict and maintains peace.

“Look at what happens when fighting stops, people want to stream across borders to see their former enemies and where they live,” he said, adding “tourism of the sustainable variety is the only real peace dividend.”

Delivering a keynote speech to the Global Ecotourism Conference in Oslo in the presence of Queen Sonja of Norway described as the “Ecotourism Queen” for her commitment to using tourism to preserve Oslo’s natural beauty, LeLaulu asserted “tourism is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry” but he also pointed out tourism represented “from the haves to the ‘have-nots’ in history.

“Think of the millions of have-nots who have died violently trying to get, or to defend, resources for themselves and their families,” he added. He urged Norway to focus its development priorities onto helping poorer countries build tourism infrastructures which enable visitor revenues to enhance the health, wealth, culture and environment of destinations – “the essential elements of peace.”

“Norway is already a major player in peace talks in the Middle East, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. Perhaps it is time for their excellent aid agencies to harmonize their work with their peace-makers,” LeLaulu asserted.

Noting the UN World Tourism Organization was forecasting a billion annual arrivals in just four years, LeLaulu said poorer countries “had the most desirable destinations but needed help to ensure tourism revenues could benefit local people.”

The best way to ensure visitor income went to the local people, he added, “was to help communities at destinations develop the skills and capacity needed to attract tourists.”

Norway and the richer countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are home to the world’s richest travelers and LeLaulu opined that “most of them would visit a less than luxurious destination, at least once in their lifetime, if they thought their visit would help preserve, or foster, peace”.

LeLaulu asked reporters to imagine a Norwegian receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Norway for championing the lucrative linkages between tourism, development and peace.

The Peace Prize, awarded in Norway, is the only Nobel Prize not presented in Sweden.

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