SEOUL (eTN) – The former prime minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Tony Blair, delivered this year’s keynote address for the second regional summit by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which is currently being held in the South Korean capital.
In his keynote speech, Mr. Blair said: “In the work that I do, I see how important tourism is in the way a country develops today. Important in its economy, important to its society, important in opening it up to the world and sharing different cultures and traditions. Important, of course, in jobs and opportunities. So, the more tourism, the better.”
According to the former UK prime minister, leadership today is a “tough business more than ever” because of the world’s three major characteristics—unpredictable, fast-changing and interdependent.
He said: “In my view, it is the connected people that win. The future belongs to the open-minded. In my country and many others, there is a very traditional divide between left and right. But, the key divide for me is between the open-minded and close-minded; between those who see globalization as an opportunity and those who see it as a threat; between those who are prepared to open up to other cultures and those who want to shut down on the face of it.”
In his view, “most of the conflicts that happen in the world today happen through the abuse of religion for political ends. And the need for people to cooperate and understand each other across the culture and faith divide has never been stronger. To do that, we need to know about each other. Because, it is ignorance that breeds fear and fear that breeds conflict. Knowledge opens our minds to others. That is why travel and tourism are not just important for enjoyment and for business. People visiting other countries and other cultures, gives the chance to explore… to cooperate and to understand each other better. “
To that end, Mr. Blair said the industry is not only good for commerce and prosperity; it can also help bring about “more peace, security and understanding.”
On a lighter note, the former British prime minister said he found it quite paradoxical to have gone into office as a popular person but with very little knowledge about the job, then exiting the job with a lot more knowledge but was lot less popularity.