As the founder and president of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT), Louis D’Amore has been a key contributor in promoting travel and tourism as a “Global Peace Industry.” Mr. D’Amore has experience with different government agencies as well as organizations focused upon initiatives such as community development, social impact assessment, public participation, and cultural/heritage development.
TRO: What events or circumstances inspired the development of IIPT?
LDA: My consulting firm in Canada, L.J. D’Amore and Associates, did what I believe to be the world’s first comprehensive study on the future of tourism in the mid-70’s. This was done for the Canadian Government Office of Tourism and served to introduce a social and environmental ethic into tourism. The study was done through a ‘North American lens’ and was very bullish on the future of tourism with higher levels of education, a growing middle class, persons retiring earlier and with pensions, etc.
We continued to be futurists and in the early 1980’s began to look through a ‘global lens’ which gave us a totally different view of the future. Increasing tensions between East and West with the Cold War and escalating military build-up of both the U.S. and Soviet Union; the growing gap of ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ regions of the world; an increasingly deteriorating environment including the issue of acid rain; and the peaking of terrorism in the mid-1980’s all contributed to the development of IIPT.
After considerable prayerful reflection on what I would do with the rest of my life I decided that rather than continue researching the future we would ‘flip this around’ and ask: How can travel and tourism be a positive force for a better world?
In the fall of 1984, I began seeding the idea for a global conference on tourism and peace. It took several years but in 1986, the UN International Year of Peace, the IIPT was founded and planning begun for the First Global Conference: Tourism – A Vital Force for Peace. The conference took place in Vancouver in 1988 with 800 persons from 67 countries participating. The Conference also served to introduce the concept of Sustainable Tourism for the first time.
TRO: What personal work and life experiences prompted your desire to delve into the peace tourism industry?
LDA: It was my three years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1960’s that became the ‘navigational star’ guiding each of my life-shaping decisions. It was just prior to the Vietnam War and I found myself keen on joining the advance forces already in Vietnam as advisors. I concluded that I should devote my life to things I would want to see happen.
As both a Midshipman and as a Marine Officer I had the opportunity to see much of Europe and Asia at a time when international travel was not as common as it is today. This early exposure to diverse cultures and ‘welcoming spirit’ of people in many lands instilled in me a love for travel and an early realization that we all have so much in common as members of one global family and that our diversity is to be celebrated.
TRO: What is IIPT’s overall mission and how has it changed throughout the past 20+ years?
LDA: IIPT is dedicated to making travel and tourism the world’s first global peace industry and to promoting the belief that ‘Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.’
Since its founding in 1986, the UN International Year of Peace, IIPT has been promoting a ‘Higher Purpose’ of tourism including the key role of tourism in:
- Promoting international understanding
- Collaboration among nations
- Protecting the environment and preserving biodiversity
- Enhancing cultures and valuing heritage
- Sustainable development
- Poverty reduction and
- Reconciliation and healing wounds of conflict
The overall mission has remained consistent throughout the past 20+ years but with emphasis in different areas, e.g. an emphasis on poverty reduction, conflict resolution, Spirituality in Tourism in Assisi, Italy and currently climate change.
TRO: IIPT works in conjunction with other organizations and each commits to a “Millennium Project.” What is an example of a partner organization and its project?
LDA: We are very proud of our many partners which include: Airline Ambassadors International, Ambassadors for Children, Global Sports Partners, Global Volunteers, SKAL International. A good example of a “Millennium Project” is Hostelling International’s “Youth Hostelling for Peace and International Understanding” in support of the International Decade for a culture of peace and non-violence for the children of the world – in collaboration with UNESCO and IIPT. With an international network of more than 4,000 hostels in over 80 countries, Hostelling International is well placed to facilitate interaction, mutual understanding and trust among young people throughout the world.
One example of many was the project in Bangkok in which diverse youth were selected to meet with international travelers at the Bangkok International Youth Hostel to learn from each other, share experiences, and form lasting friendships.
TRO: The 5th IIPT African Conference was recently announced at World Travel Market. What sorts of things are you expecting to accomplish at this conference?
LDA: The theme of the 5th IIPT African conference is: Meeting the Challenges of Climate Change to Tourism in Africa and the Developing World. The Conference is hosted by Zambia and will be held April 3-8, 2011.
Climate change is a major threat to sustainable growth and development in Africa and the entire developing world. Although African and other developing nations are least responsible for climate change, they are particularly vulnerable to the effects, all of which have an impact on tourism and achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals. The aim of the 5th IIPT African Conference is to bring together models of ‘best practice’ in mitigating the anticipated impacts of climate change. Our goal is to profile the current ‘state of the art’ practices from each of the developing regions of the world.
We are also requesting that Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda declare the week of the conference “National Peace through Tourism Week.” Our goal is to launch the week in Ndola, Zambia – at the Dag Hammarskjold Memorial site. Dag Hammarskjold is the only UN Secretary General to die while in office – and symbolically died while on a peace mission to the Congo.
Finally, we wish to end the week with the re-dedication of an IIPT International Peace Park at Victoria Falls. Ideally, this would be a global event including peace park dedications in Zimbabwe, Canada, the U.S., Brazil and Arginetina. IIPT is proud to have UNWTO as a partner in the conference. Additional partners will be announced in the days ahead.
TRO: When offering travel and tourism initiatives (such as the World Peace Tours), how does IIPT foster participation?
LDA: IIPT first engendered participation by communicating a vision that people wanted to be part of and to learn more about. At a time when travel and tourism was all about filling aircraft seats – and ‘heads on beds’, IIPT offered a much bigger vision for the potential of tourism – a vision that gave many in the industry a new sense of purpose – and served to inspire young people coming into the industry. We find that the values of IIPT are increasingly the values that both leaders of the industry and emerging entrepreneurs identify with.
TRO: Can travel agents become involved with the organization, and if so, how?
LDA: Yes, certainly. We welcome travel agents to become involved with IIPT by offering our World Peace Tours to their clients. All tours are commissionable. As well, we welcome travel agents to become IIPT partners, supporting our initiatives through a modest one time contribution and small annual fee. Travel Agents, whether partners or not, are welcome to distribute our IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler to their clients. Pease see: http://www.iipt.org/credo.html
TRO: Why should travel agents become involved with IIPT?
Involvement with IIPT enables travel agents to become part of the growing movement in making travel and tourism the ‘World’s first global peace industry’ and an opportunity for travel agents’ clients to be ‘Ambassadors for Peace.’
World Peace Tours is currently in initial stages of development. We are considering a special Travel Agent Partner category where charter members can help shape the direction that the Travel Agent program will take, e.g. the types of tours that would be of greatest interest, destinations of greatest interest, emerging destinations of interest, desired volunteer experiences, etc. Each Travel Agent partner will receive a beautiful acrylic plaque with the IIPT Credo of the Peaceful Traveler and the Padre Johnson ‘Portrait of the Global Family.’ please see: http://www.iipt.org/plaque.htm
IIPT Credo Of The Peaceful Traveler
Grateful for the opportunity to travel and experience the world and because peace begins with the individual, I affirm my personal responsibility and commitment to:
Journey with an open mind and gentle heart
Accept with grace and gratitude the diversity I encounter
Revere and protect the natural environment which sustains all life
Appreciate all cultures I discover
Respect and thank my hosts for their welcome
Offer my hand in friendship to everyone I meet
Support travel services that share these views and act upon them and,
By my spirit, words and actions, encourage others to travel the world in peace
-International Institute for Peace Through Tourism–