IIPT was most proud to have Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu as Patron of the IIPT World Symposium: Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations through Tourism, Culture and Sport recently held at Emperors Palace, Ekurhuleni, South Africa.
Following is the text of his video-taped message welcoming delegates of the Symposium in the Opening Ceremony:
Sisters and brothers:
Twenty-five years ago South Africa’s “Berlin Wall” fell. Nelson Mandela was released from prison, pro-democracy organisations were unbanned, and exiles and refugees began to return home.
Our international friends, who contributed so handsomely to shaming and isolating the apartheid state – peacefully, through highlighting the evil of prejudice, and imposing economic, cultural and sporting boycotts – welcomed us with open arms back into the world we share.
I remember as if it was yesterday South Africa’s return to international cricket, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, in 1991. Not only had we been outlawed from the international circuit for 21 years, but prior to that we had only ever faced so-called white nations.
In 1994 South Africa held its miraculously peaceful first democratic election. We celebrated our diversity. We were one nation of many hues and cultures – with 11 official languages. We basked in the glory of our world champion President, and quickly added world rugby and continental football crowns to our list of successes.
In 2010, we were absolutely sensational when we hosted the FIFA World Cup. We were sensational because of the natural splendor of our land, the richness of our history, and because of the evidence we presented of our unique abilities, as a species – in all our multi-cultural glory – to reconcile, to forgive, to overcome a hideously divided past.
This year, in April, our democracy comes of age. Yes, we may have sprouted a wart or two along the way, but with your help, the hideous caterpillar we were has evolved into a splendid butterfly. The former pariah state has become a sought after international destination.
Tourism, culture and sport bring people together and foster tolerance and harmony on earth.
We are made for each other, for goodness, for peace and for love.
We treasure each other because we are sisters and brothers of one family, the human family, God’s family.
Welcome to South Africa.
God bless you!
ARCHBISHOP EMERITUS DESMOND TUTU
The interactive and action oriented Symposium honored the legacies of the world’s three Champions of Peace and Non-Violent Resistance: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. with the aim of affirming their legacies by building bridges of tourism, friendship and peace in regions throughout the world.
Delegates from 34 countries came together in a spirit of friendship, cooperation, and mutual support in the launch of bold new initiatives. The Symposium also commemorated the 50th Anniversary of the African Union, 20 years of South African Democracy and 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Legislation in the U.S.
The Welcome address from Archbishop Desmond Tutu was followed by the reading of a letter from the Vatican Secretary of State with a message from His Holiness Pope Francis expressing “appreciation for (the Symposium’s) efforts to contribute positively to the unity, solidarity and peace of our global family and invokes God’s abundant blessings upon all present at the Symposium.”
The welcomes and blessings from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness Pope Francis were followed by Symposium keynote addresses from Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Mr. David Scowsill, President and CEO, World Travel and Tourism Council WTTC). IIPT Founder and President, Dr. Louis D’Amore thanked Dr. Rifai and Mr. David Scowsill for their inspiring addresses – as well as Master of Ceremony, Ms. Anita Mendiratta and officially opened the Symposium.
Other keynote speakers during the Symposium included: Dr. Geraldine Reymenants, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to South Africa; Hon. Alain St. Ange, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Seychelles; H.E. Vincent Karega, High Commissioner of Rwanda to South Africa; Mr. Salih Cene, President and Mr. Nigel Pilkington, First Vice-President, Skal International; Prof. Geoffrey Lipman, President, International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP); Mr. Welcome Msomi, Chairman, MsomiFranco Intelligent Solutions and Mr. Paul Bewsher, Program Manager, Peace Park Foundation.
A special plenary session featured conversations with Ms. Naomi King, widow of Rev. A. D. King, the only brother of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Co-Founder of the A.D. King Foundation, and Ms. Nandi Mandela, Director, MediClinic International and granddaughter of Nelson Mandela ably facilitated by Ms. Anita Mendiratta,
The participation of young people from Africa and a delegation of 14 students from India added a special vibrancy, energy and enthusiasm to the Symposium.
IIPT was proud to have Coca-Cola South Africa as Title Sponsor of the Symposium and host of a special luncheon that announced the IIPT Scholarship Award winners; acknowledged IIPT/Skal Cities, Towns and Villages of Peace; and launched the world record setting journey of Cassandra (Cassie) De Pecol as an IIPT Ambassador for Peace.
Host Partners of the Symposium included: South Africa Tourism, the Metropolitan Municipalities of Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South African Airways and Emperors Palace.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), which has supported IIPT International events since the First IIPT Global Conference, Vancouver 1988, was again a partner in the Symposium. Other partners included: the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Africa Travel Association (ATA), Skal International; International Coalition of Tourism Partners (ICTP) and the Jamaica Business Resource Center (JBRC).
This was IIPT’s seventeenth international event and seventh global summit since its founding in 1986, the UN International Year of Peace.
IIPT is dedicated to fostering and facilitating tourism initiatives that contribute to international understanding and cooperation, an improved quality of environment, the preservation of heritage, poverty reduction, and the resolution of conflict – and through these initiatives, help bring about a more peaceful and sustainable world. IIPT is dedicated to mobilizing travel and tourism, the world’s largest industry, as the world’s first “Global Peace Industry,” an industry that promotes and supports the belief that “Every traveler is potentially an Ambassador for Peace.”