Peace Through Tourism Festival – Interview with Fabio Carbone PART 1/2

The first edition of the International Peace through Tourism Festival began on 21st September, The International Peace Day,  and is held in Tehran until 27th September, the International Tourism Day. This event, ideated and organized by Fabio Carbone, lecturer and researcher at Coventry University (UK), in charge of global ambassador and special envoy to Iran from the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT, New York), includes a rich program of seminars, workshops and masterclasses, through which the intent is to spread a message of ‘Higher Purpose of Tourism” and which involves themes of peace through tourism, such as local identity and the management of cultural heritage; gender equality and inclusiveness; the role of museums and the role of travelers and local populations.

Twissen interviewed Fabio Carbone who provided us with an analysis of the interconnection between Peace and Tourism.

What does peace through tourism mean and what are the founding elements?

The concept of peace through tourism indicates a process of  creation and promotion of a peace’s culture and dialogue between people. Initially this association – actually nothing new – was based on the “theory of contact”, according to which the encounter between people of different cultures and geographical places, in itself, would lead to dialogue and greater understanding. Fortunately, today the debate is tinged with complexity: the idea that the only encounter between people leads to dialogue and understanding is in fact quite naïve, and constitutes an argument that is sometimes denied by more empirical evidences which demonstrate, on the contrary, how the experience in a destination may even reinforce in the visitor pre-existing stereotypes, rather than dispel them. And then just think of places such as Venice, Barcelona, ​​where the local population can no longer stand the presence of tourists, because of the wrong (or lack of) management of visitor flows: loss of identity, gentrification, overtourism, latent conflict. Between visitors and inhabitants … What sustainability? What responsibility? What peace? So let’s say that the process of promoting a culture of peace through tourism exists potentially, but there must be precise conditions for this to actually happen. We are therefore enriching the discourse with new, more complex, integrated approaches. I personally focus on the role of cultural assets and their management in the construction of dynamics that can lead to intercultural dialogue.

When and where was the necessity to concretize the union between tourism and peace born? 

I would not say there is a necessity. There is instead a potential, a possible causal relationship between tourism and peace (in a broad sense). But there are assumptions that need to be treated to make it happen. These assumptions deal with the involvement of areas such as – among others – education (formal, non-formal and informal); the participatory and integrated management methods of cultural heritage in order to enhance the awareness and self-esteem of locals even before the tourist arrives; and cultural diplomacy activities. First of all, it would be necessary to break free the very idea of tourism (which is  mostly taught in economics and business schools faculties, for example), from the chains of unrestrained economism, by bringing Man back, in a Kantian sense, to the center of the process of tourism development in each destination. To do that, we should, for example, think of inter-faculty tourism courses (economics / sociology / literature and philosophy / international relations, just to give an example!). Imagine, for instance, that I don’t work, unlike most of my colleagues, in a research center of an Economics faculty, but in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations of Coventry University! And instead, as long as economism will continue to grip the idea of tourism, associating the word peace (as well as that of “sustainability”!) to tourism will be an intellectual exercise that is little more than useless. The work I carry out as ambassador of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (New York) has the precise purpose of raising awareness in the public and private sector, as well as civil society (tourists and inhabitants of the destinations) on the existence of this alternative on which I conceptually work on in the academic field as a researcher.

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