The Region Initiative (TRI) is a tri-regional umbrella of tourism-related organizations, which functions as a link between three regions – South Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. It offers blended tours packages, consultancy, networking of tourism organizations, tourism research opportunities, marketing of small tourism stakeholders, promotion of need of usage of renewable energies, and advocates sustainable tourism and ecotourism.
TRI believes that tourism is one of the most effective tools for peace that can be achieved through tourism, and tourism should be considered not only a revenue provider but a harmony and peace generator and should, therefore, be supported by United Nations bodies as a peace industry.
TRI believes that the agendas of governments are sometimes contrary to the needs and demands of the tourism industry. In South Asia, governments of Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Afghanistan have different political and diplomatic conflicts, and this is the lead reason that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) has failed to establish interaction and strong networking in the field of tourism. There are also certain conflicts among Central Asian republics and also in Eastern Europe countries. Therefore, the chance of a solid networking and connection among tourism ministries of these countries is more myth than reality.
The Region Initiative stresses that governments should provide direct financial support to those who are following a path of sustainable tourism instead of harming nature by adopting mass and uncontrolled tourism in fragile environments of Central Asia, South Asia and Eastern Europe. TRI demands that governments should provide financial support of small stakeholders for creating balance, otherwise it would become difficult for small stakeholders to get their share of tourism revenue and difficult for those who are trying to following the path of sustainable tourism.
In May 2010, regional intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, tour operators, and other tourism industry stakeholders of South Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe were invited to institute a stronger and closer relationship. Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Iran, Pakistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan joined hands and has established a strong base for cost effective tours, sharing information and knowledge, and obtaining benefits from the strength of its members. The idea behind this networking and collaboration is the promotion of the small stakeholder of the tourism industry, including accommodation providers, tour operators, tourist guides, and communities providing community-based tourism.
TRI’s President, Agha Iqrar Haroon, said: “Today, world peace is victim of conflicts ranging from geographical to conceptual and from political to religious. The agonies of humans are growing on multidimensional levels, and are one of the core reasons for financial, political, and social unrest – there is a lack of ‘oneness’ and an absence of ‘interfaith harmony’ among societies. TRI is pleased to work with ICTP to achieve peace through tourism.”
Achieving harmony among races, cultures, continents, and religions is a major issue for individuals and groups that feel pain for millions of poor, powerless, homeless, and hopeless people around the world. Meeting each other and living together for some time helps to understand each other, and tourism has always been an important tool for such meetings. Tourism has long worked as a modality for bringing harmony among people, and exposure of the East to the West historically became possible through tourists.
President Haroon added: “TRI attempts to bring about peace, harmony, tolerance, and oneness through The Region Initiative. It will not only develop and promote tourism in the region, but it will also attempt to achieve more harmony and peace in the region. This region is very diversified, not only in races but also in beliefs from Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Agnosticism, and Atheism. Bridging South Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe is the perfect attempt of achieving oneness and peace.”
Blending and connecting tour operators and tourism bodies to offer tours year round is also an objective of TRI. Eastern European tour operators can offer tours to their clients to India, Nepal, and Pakistan when extreme weather makes people shy about traveling to Eastern Europe. Companies of Nepal and India can offer tourism to Eastern Europe or Central Asia when temperatures go as high as 52c in many parts of this sun continent. Tourism stakeholders can enjoy good business year round if they have better reach and networking in other regions. Extreme weather conditions that occur during the winter and summer, along with extreme monsoons, can only be experienced in these three regions of the world. Therefore, these regions having an extreme diversification in fauna, flora, topography, culture, customs, and social fabric and yet are strongly connected through history and cultural roots.
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) Chairman Juergen T. Steinmetz said: “We are pleased to work with The Region Initiative to ICTP, and we are looking forward to working with them to further expand the reach of our mission.”
The International Council of Tourism Partners (ICTP) is a new grassroots travel and tourism coalition of global destinations committed to quality service and green growth. The ICTP logo represents the strength in collaboration (the block) of many small communities (the lines) committed to sustainable oceans (blue) and land (green).
ICTP engages communities and their stakeholders to share quality and green opportunities including tools and resources, access to funding, education, and marketing support. ICTP advocates sustainable aviation growth, streamlined travel formalities, and fair coherent taxation.
ICTP supports the UN Millennium Development Goals, the UN World Tourism Organization’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism, and a range of programs that underpin them. The ICTP alliance is represented in Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA; Brussels, Belgium; Bali, Indonesia; and Victoria, Seychelles. ICTP membership is available to qualified destinations free of charge. Academy membership features a prestigious and selected group of destinations. Currently, ICTP academy members include the Seychelles; La Reunion; Rwanda; Oman; Richmond, Virginia; Grenada; Northshore Oahu, Hawaii; and Johannesburg.
For more information, go to: www.tourismpartners.org .