On the links between Tourism and Peace

By Steve Killelea

Chairman and Founder, Institute for Economics and Peace


Probably the most publicised event of 2015 was the Paris terrorist attacks, which yet again brought terrorism to centre stage. What is startling and not well understood is how much terrorism is spreading. By the end of 2014, sixteen countries had recorded over 500 deaths in that year, representing a 100% increase.

The level of human pain and suffering unleashed by these attacks is immeasurable, but with it also comes an economic cost and there is no industry that is more susceptible than tourism.

Since then, tourists have been slowly returning to the city of light. And this is a good thing, because tourism is not only good for the economy, it also has links to peace, according to new research conducted by the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Commissioned by the World Travel and Tourism Council, this research, the results of which I will present at the Global Summit in Dallas, analyzes the relationships between tourism and peacefulness.

We know that tourism contributes to world GDP and employment, but how can we use data of that kind from nations around the globe to measure peace?

Violence has an economic impact on economies, in fact $14 trillion in 2015, or 13 percent of global GDP.

IEP is the leading think tank in the world devoted to measuring peace, its drivers and the economic benefits. Its core research products are internationally known and widely used by governments, think tanks and multilateral organisations, such as the United Nations, OECD, Club de Madrid and Commonwealth Secretariat. A non-partisan and not-for-profit organisation, IEP has offices in Sydney, New York, Mexico City and Brussels.

Our Global Terrorism Index, now in its third year, provides a detailed analysis of the changing trends in terrorism across 162 countries, over the last 15 years. It investigates the patterns of terrorism by geographic activity, methods of attack, organisations involved and the national economic and political context. It is a critical baseline document for understanding patterns and trends in terrorist and violent extremist activity. Added to our understanding of terrorism is our expertise in peace research, with the 10th edition of our Global Peace Index to be released in June.

What these indices have told us so far is that there is no doubt that the world has become a somewhat more violent place, but the fabric of peace, while threadbare in some places, is a rich tapestry in others. Europe probably has never been more peaceful, military spending is down and homicide rates for many countries are in the lowest since records began. However, this has been offset by dramatic increases in terrorism and ever deepening conflicts in the Middle-East and North Africa. Decreases in internal peace led to increasing numbers of those fleeing conflict, especially from Syria, with the UN’s refugee agency estimating that more than 60 million people are currently displaced, the highest level since World War Two.

Despite the level of fear, though, tourists are returning to Paris and that society has showed itself to be resilient, unlike countries in other parts of the world that have deteriorated from being under attack. IEP’s research looks into the attitudes, institutions and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, also known as Positive Peace.

So join me at the WTTC Global Summit on 7 April for the session: Breaking Trust — Understanding threat, risk and security, and discover the contribution your work makes towards world peace.

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