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International Council of Tourism Partners

Geoffrey Lipman, president of ICTP sends his Year End Message

Mr. Geoffrey Lipman, president of ICTP commented at…

Mr. Geoffrey Lipman, president of ICTP commented at his year end message, “I was proud to see the way people around the world are standing shoulder to shoulder with us in Africa to call for an end to extreme and dehumanizing poverty. Because of you, the G8 have taken the first steps on the road to ending injustices that lead to extreme poverty. There is still much of this difficult journey to complete – but the first steps are always the hardest to take. You should be proud of what you have achieved – many people will live because of you.”

So spoke Wangari Mathi, Nobel Laureate after the landmark 2005 G8 meeting, commenting on the civil society anti poverty initiatives. And she was right: the campaigns have been an important part of this whole exercise. Putting the media positively into play, in way politicians alone would never have been able to do.

But much credit must also go to the leaders themselves. The G8 who smoothed over their very real differences to make very real progress on Africa and to draw closer on climate change – the two key issues on their table. And particularly to Tony Blair who shepherded the exercise for 2 years with his Commission for Africa setting out the high ground on which others finally joined him.

Africa is where tourismpartners has taken its stand – strongly supporting the efforts to eliminate debt, double aid and initiate action on pro poor trade. And so we salute the G8 the UN Millennium Summit that followed and the Hong Kong Trade Ministerial – all of which moved the anti poverty Agenda forward.

Some may argue about the details and its true the proof of the pudding will be in the eating but as Bono said “25 billion new dollars in aid will save a lot of lives even if it comes more slowly than many would wish”.

In other words lets recognize and salute the kind of interlocking multilateral deals that Tony Blair painstakingly put together over the past 2 years. Much remains to be done but so much has been achieved.

For economies struggling to modernise and democratise at the same time – as are all African States – the removal of the debt stigma and repayment obligation is a huge blessing. It also opens the door wider for investors, suddenly unencumbered by the uncertainty of repayment conditions and the political provisos tagged to them. It requires commitment to the anticorruption and good governance agenda – as it should.

The true value of the trade decision will be seen as the Hong Kong accord is turned into practical implementation measures during the painstaking sectoral discussions to start dismantling trade barriers and help poor countries achieve tangible benefits not just theoretical opportunities. Equally important will be the haves delivering on substantial trade and export development support for the have-nots, across the socio-economic spectrum.

And while the political and emotional momentum is driving air travel “poverty taxes” the jury is still out on some key elements. Whether the leaders will match their rhetoric with real commitment of their own stated 0.7% of GDP for poverty: how airline taxes would be collected without administrative drain: or allocated without political goal and above all if air services to the poor countries can still be significantly increased to grow their tourism exports. But if these hurdles can be overcome the potential for good from the initiative is evident.

Overall however, the climate of change augurs well for our sector as a development agent, as we have consistently maintained

  • First tourism entrepreneurs and investors will thrive on good governance and transparency that African leaders have committed to deliver

  • Second there will be a big boost to infrastructure, technology and human capacity – all are key components of the tourism export equation

  • Third tourism trade liberalization could really help the world’s poorest countries. Trade, aviation and tourism ministers need to caucus urgently to maximize the opportunities. Some creative thinking would not go amiss to help get low cost air services to the world’s poorest countries with more tourists sitting inside them to fuel their export economies

For our part we will continue to support strict implementation of the poverty agenda. And we will continue to push our Tourism Against Poverty Initiative with its Mission Africa Focus “To help Africa sustainably triple its tourism export income by 2015”

We remain convinced that with an affirmative action agenda the tourism sector can make an immense difference to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. And we need your continued support to help raise the visibility of our sector with the people who make the political decisions.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.