Providing a unique overview of tourism as a tool in peace building and reconciliation efforts, the International Handbook on Tourism and Peace was launched with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Family and Youth and the Ministry of European and International Affairs of Austria (Vienna, Austria, 29 January 2014).
The Handbook offers a comprehensive collection of perspectives on tourism and peace from leading international specialists with topics ranging from sustainable development and conflict resolution to eco-tourism and heritage preservation and includes several case studies.
On the occasion of the launch, UNWTO Secretary Taleb Rifai stated that “the fundamental experience of tourism – visiting a new place and meeting its people and culture – is a transformative aspect that defines tourism’s role as an agent of peace. In this age of travel, I trust that this Handbook will help enhance our understanding of the subject and open up further possibilities to foster tourism as a valuable instrument for peace.”
Ms. Elisabeth Udolf-Strobl, Director General of the Austrian Ministry of Economy, which supported the project from the beginning, said: “I am very pleased that an Austrian University is carrying out this project in cooperation with the World Tourism Organization. This proves the internationally recognized competence of Austria in tourism and in the field of peace research.”
Ambassador Eichtinger from the Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs praised tourism for its role in intercultural dialogue and exchanges. Quoting the author Mark Twain, he said: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness….”
The editors of the book, Cordula Wohlmuther and Werner Wintersteiner argue that there are different approaches to the complex topic of “tourism and peace” and that the handbook provides a good overview on this .Based on this diversity they conclude that aspects of “peace sensitive” tourism can be carved out and used by various tourism stakeholders and tourists, as well as international and development organizations.
The number of experts contributing both case studies and theoretical approaches makes the Handbook a unique and powerful contribution to the overall discussion about new pathways to peace. Published by the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education of the Klagenfurt University (Austria), in cooperation with UNWTO, within the framework of their joint ‘Tourism and Peace’ project, this publication aims to make a substantial academic contribution, while providing also relevant insights for the broader public in presenting tourism as a powerful tool within the international peace building agenda.