Vienna, 27 September
“Linking Cultures” is the motto of the World Tourism Day on 27 September 2011. Time and time again it is being maintained that tourism can be conducive to peace and democratisation. Since not every type of tourism is socially and environmentally compatible, this hypothesis is commented with “yes, but” by Naturefriends International (NFI).
That tourism will not engender peace and democracy automatically, as if by a stroke of magic, is something that appears to have filtered down to UNWTO, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation: As a result UNWTO, which initiated and backs the World Tourism Day, is, this year, going to organise the official celebrations in Aswan, the legendary city on the Nile in the south of Egypt. “These celebrations in post-revolutionary Egypt, which is one of the most important and long-standing tourist countries, are clearly an up-beat signal”, says Christian Baumgartner, Secretary General of NFI, the umbrella organisations of the international Naturefriends movement.
“Ultimately, tourism is a complex economic sector that cannot be equated with hazy ideas of travel as a means of unifying different cultures and nations. The assumption that tourism will automatically make the world a better place resembles the hypothesis that a free market economy will automatically engender democracy. Developments in the past two decades, e.g. in China, have clearly demonstrated that this is not the case”, adds Karin Chladek, staff member of respect/NFI.
“Tourism can act as a positive force, but only if it is planned and managed in a socially and environmentally compatible manner. The local population needs to be involved in the development of tourism and derive economic benefit from it. The Naturefriends movement is seeking to boost sustainable tourism by way of long-term projects, such as the transborder ‘Landscape of the Year 2007-2009 – the Danube Delta’. African and European members of the Naturefriends movement engage in an exchange of experience and craft joint projects. Mutual understanding depends on people from diverse cultures getting to know each other. In the absence of mutual understanding, neither people nor cultures can succeed in getting on well together”, underlines Baumgartner by way of conclusion.
NFI is the international umbrella organisation of the Naturefriends movement, uniting over 50 member and partner organisations. It is a member of the Green 10, and with 500'000 members one of the biggest NGOs worldwide.
Queries and contact:
Karin Chladek, Press and Public Relations
respect – the Trademark of Naturefriends International (NFI)
for sustainable tourism development
Tel.: + 43 1 892 3877, +43 676 942 6407