By Mark Okrant,
NH Travel Guru
In the last NH Travel Guru column (“Ugly Americans Don’t Earn Friends Abroad”), we concluded that optimal international travel experiences result when hosts and guests show respect for one another. One man who has devoted his professional life to this principle is Louis J. D’Amore, founder and president of the International Institute of Peace Through Tourism.
Through the work of the IITP, D’Amore has continued to convince others that tourism can promote better understanding among nations, one resident at a time. Through tourism, he argues, peace can be achieved as the desirable alternative to war or other forms of violence.
The world first became aware of D’Amore’s case for tourism as an instrument for promoting world harmony in 1988. After founding the IIPT in 1986, D’Amore set about bringing scholars and tourism industry leaders together at the first global conference, Tourism: A Vital Force for Peace, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Having been asked to serve as a pre-conference editor for the conference, I was skeptical initially about what could be accomplished. The conference began with live, remote, and taped messages from Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, President of Iceland at the time. What followed those inspiring speeches were several days of hard work and solidarity, as the conference evolved into tourism’s equivalent of Woodstock.
The message at that time was clear. As agents of a multi-trillion dollar phenomenon, travelers presented opportunities to open peoples’ minds and hearts everywhere. An overriding problem with this solution was that many forms of tourism accomplished quite the opposite (see the July 22nd column).
Each time a mob of gawking, camera happy bus tourists entered a country, they sent a terrible message to the locals. People going about their normal business were made to feel like denizens of a zoo, rather than normal human beings. Despite guides telling patrons, “Think how you’d feel,” that behavior has continued to this day. For D’Amore’s dream to be achieved, travelers need opportunities to meet other cultures in a neutral setting, where similarities—more than differences—are the focus.
During the last thirty years, D’Amore and his IITP colleagues have worked tirelessly to develop new insights. Their message is that we must learn to “harness the resources of nature and the intelligence of humans for the common good.” Toward that end, the IIPT developed the Credo of the Peaceful Traveler. In contemporary times, when nationalism has reared its head both, it is essential that all elements of the Credo be promoted, lest we move closer to a state of warfare, when no one wins.
IITP 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.
After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joins IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.
For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.
For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to: