That was the call from outgoing secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai who said he believed the international travel and tourism sector was helping to build a “smaller, more connected world in which stereotypes are challenged and barriers broken”.
Rifai told delegates that the rate at which the industry was growing – citing the UN’s prediction of 1.8 billion international travellers by 2030 - coupled with the economic significance of the sector meant that “we are living in the age of travel” and its use as a force for good “was more important than ever”.
Rifai was speaking at WTM London while being honoured by the International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT) as a Global Man of Peace Through Tourism for his work during his tenure as UNWTO secretary general – a position he has held since 2010 and will leave at the end of this year.
During the session, the IIPT named six Global Ambassadors of Peace Through Tourism for 2017, individuals, Louis D’Amore, founder and president said had spent their time in travel “enriching and changing the lives of others”.
Among the honourees was HRH princess Dana Firas of Jordan, chairperson of the Petra National Trust and Unesco Goodwill Ambassador; Fiona Jeffery, founder of sustainability charity Just a Drop and former WTTC president, David Scowsill.
The institute also celebrated the work of tourism author Anita Mendiratta; Costas Christ, chief executive of Beyond Green Travel and senior advisor for Sustainable Tourism at National Geographic and Geoffrey Lipman, director of Green Growth and Travelism Institute.