The travel industry has the potential—and the responsibility—to spread peace and change the world, former US President Bill Clinton told a high-profile audience of travel executives.
Speaking at the World Travel & Tourism Council's 13th annual Global Summit in Abu Dhabi, he challenged travel leaders to assume a renewed sense of responsibility.
"I spent a lot of time when I was president, trying to end wars, prevent killing, and promote understanding. What I have seen is that peace works better than conflict, and one of the best manifestations of it is in travel and tourism," he said.
President Clinton cited the resurgence of Croatia, which saw a 50% increase in tourism revenues in the year following the Bosnian peace agreement, and 300% growth in the decade following.
He also cited the UNITAID project, where revenues raised in France from international air ticket taxes buys medicines for HIV-affected children in Africa.
Clinton urged the hotel industry to develop internship programmes in every country in which they operate, so that young people can experience other cultures. "What you do for a living is good for the earth, the children and the future," he said.
By simply expanding tourism in ways that promote sustainability, he noted, the travel industry reminds people of our common humanity.
"One of the reasons that I'm glad to be here today," he said, "is because I think that just because of what you do and how you live, you will always be on the right side."
By Cheryl Rosen
Wednesday, April 10, 2013