Countries with more open and sustainable tourism sectors have higher levels of peace and lower levels of conflict and violence, a new study reveals

Increases in tourism sustainability can lead to improvements in the functioning of governments. 

As governments respond to tourism demand and create a welcoming environment for further tourism expansion, this ultimately increases future peace, according to the research conducted for the World Travel & Tourism Council by the Institute of Economics and Peace think tank.

The publication comes in the wake of a series of terror and security scares against tourists in the past few months.

Over the last decade the world has become increasingly unequal in terms of its levels of “peacefulness,” it adds.

The most peaceful countries have enjoyed increasing levels of prosperity, while the least peaceful nations face greater levels of violence and conflict.

The research shows that the more sustainable and open a country’s tourism sector, the less peace levels have declined. Even in conflict-affected countries, all of which saw their levels of peace drop in the period between 2008 and 2015, those that had more open and sustainable tourism saw a significantly lower drop in peace than countries with less sustainable tourism sectors.

WTTC president and chief executive, David Scowsill, said: “Travel and tourism’s economic impact is now well established and widely recognised, and governments around the world are increasingly looking to the sector to provide livelihoods and jobs, and drive economic development. 

“However, the benefits of tourism as a force for good, its ability to bring peace, security and understanding have been harder to quantify.

“I am delighted that this research now shows that travel and tourism does have a strong link to creating peaceful societies.

“In a world of increasing risk and security concerns, this research is compelling evidence of why governments should continue to focus on tourism development for the good of their people, and make policy decisions that balance the safety of their citizens with the continued facilitation of travel for business and leisure purposes.”

Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of IEP, added: “The data shows how tourism and peace can support each other and increase societal resilience, prosperity and peace in the long term.

“This also shows how the tourism sector is one of the key areas in which the private sector can play a positive and tangible role in contributing to global peace.”