1.Yes, tourism can help in the global economic recovery.For one it is the largest industry in the world and logically if the world economy is to recover, its input is indispensable.It could help this by:Designing specific “recession beating packages” by which i mean discounted packages,retaining jobs by introducing shifts for example,opening up new markets and opportunities, stimulating the production and consumption of food, services and even promoting fashions.The events of 9/11 dramatized the centrality of this industry and by now nobody should be in doubt of its capacity,role and potential.
2.For the recovery of developing countries, tourism is crucial.A number of countries these days almost entirely depend on it for economic surivival, good examples being Gambia,Phillipines,Kenya,South Africa,Bahamas,Egypt and Tanzania,yet the tourists they attract cannot even constitute a fraction of the now estimated 82 million tourists who visit France annually and another close to 50 million who go to neighbouring Switzerland every year.The US State of Hawaii alone pulls in close to 11 million holiday makers every year.The question is:What if these numbers were reversed, or at least evened out, so that Gambia receives the 50 million guests, small as it is? I can argue here that it will not need any Development aid of any form for its survival,even if part of that money goes to waste.
3.Yes, tourism can improve relations between Iran and the West.Iran is a well known ancient civilization anchored on Zeroastarism and the Persian heritage.The United States is a well established liberal democracy.One of the reasons why tensions persist between the two countries is the fact that they dont relate at both formal and informal levels.They talk at each other and not to each other.If cross country tourism packages can be fashioned between them, then it is conceivable that a situation similar to the Cuba-US Relations can develop where a rapproachment of sorts is reached bacause of pressures and lobbying from friends and relatives across the boarders in the two countries.The time for that detente is now.
4.In conflict flashpoints like Kashmir,Cyprus and the Middle East, tourism would come in as a handy product for peace.It mediates peace powerfully through cultural exchanges.For example, Jerusalem is a highly contentious city.Muslims,Christians and Jews all lay claim to it on religious and historical grounds.If one of its artefacts can be developed and marketed as an open city for all religions to come and tour, then it is possible that intermmarriages would ensue,dialogue and respect based on the apprecition of other peoples’ cultures.I would cite it as an example as well as the mountanious jungles of Eastern Congo and Rwanda where a rare species of mountain guerillas reisides.Both the Rwandese and Ugandan governments have realized that the Ruwenzori mountains and Bwindi national park are a common resource that they share across the boarder and with the assiastance of the UN,Militias from all the belligerent groups have been convinced and sometimes paid money to spare the guerrilas during armed confrontations.Since, it is a shared resources, both the two governments and the cocktail of rebel movements there, with the exception of a few rogue ones like the notirious LRA, have moved closer to peace partly because of this industry.The volatile Swat valley of Pakistan is the Switzerland of Pakistan.If it were peaceful, the tourism industry would be the leading economic activity in the valley and possibly deflect armed insurgents and also provide jobs to the sometimes hapless suicide bombers.
5.Of course there exists tremendous potential for using tourism for the recovery of Iraq.In fact, Iraq should be the biggest magnet of tourists in the world.It has unique heritages:The famed Hamurabi civilization, ancient Mesopotamian agriculture,the beatiful Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that slice through the violent city of Baghdad,the second largest proven oil deposists in the world, and so on.In fact, one needs just look back at the tragic events in 2003.When the US invaded Iraq, ostensibly to liberate it, the chaos that ensued after the fall of Baghdad resulted in the wanton looting and destrcution of the city’s museum.Some of those precious artefacts were stolen and smuggled out of the country and sold into the black market and have not been recovered since.A number were UNESCO sites and UNESCO has mounted a global campaign to recover them including offering monetary prices for return.Some are being reconstructed.Prior to that, years of sanctions had also led to dereliction of the industry.That is how potential the Iraqi tourism industry is and if Iraq can fully return to peace, then it would rival,if not ecclipse France as the largest destination of tourists in the world. This would generate sufficient resources for the country and the net effect of that would be accelerated national reconcilliation between the Sunni,Shiites and Kurds and all groups in Iraq as they will all have a livehood to defend:Tourism,the goose that lays the golden eggs.
6.To mitigate CO2 and other green house gases resulting from tourism, a number of measures should be adopted:Carbon trading,higher taxation to the biggest emmitters,shift and substitution of dirty with clean energy sources,adopting eco-tourism principles,gazzeting and protecting vulnerable resources like species, and sites,capacity building initiatives and legislation to curb all tendencies of unsustainable tourism.