Mart Reimann – How does Tourism Ensure Peace?
Tourism is one of the best tools to restore a broken economy, as it can be endorsed without any investments, i.e. showing the tourists what the war has created, says Associate Professor of Recreation Management at the Tallinn University School of Natural Sciences and Health, Mart Reimann.
Generally economic and political instability decreases the number of tourists, but there is an increasing number of those who look for tumultuous areas. War can bring along a period where the locals are not happy with the actions of the winners, and unless life becomes better than it was before war, a new conflict can arise. To avoid the re-emergence and spread of conflict, developed countries offer development packages to crisis areas, but due to corruption, the packages often do not reach the needy.
In addition to economic problems, people in conflict areas often feel disregarded, and a tourist showing interest in them can, in addition to material benefit, be an emotional support and help them reset their values.
Research shows that tourists visiting crisis areas are not only adrenaline-seeking men, but also women looking for romance. The main motive is to be among the first in a post-conflict area. To see with their own eyes what the media has shown, to go beyond stereotypes and meet the natives. In addition, rather than relying on humanitarian aid organisations, the tourists are the people who would like to bring their money in first-hand, to those who need it most, and also those who work for it in the tourism industry.
There is no doubt about the risks involved in visiting post-conflict areas, but with adequate preparations and making sure the conflict has ceased before visiting, the risks are no bigger than when visiting Paris or Berlin. Every Euro the tourists spends and every smile they share helps endorse the local life and avert a future conflict – helping ensure peace.
In spite of military activity, Afghanistan is visited by ~20,000 tourists annually. Many British tourists are willing to spend up to £6,000 on a two-week trip to the area.