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A New Beginning for Tourism, Sports, and Peace on the Korean Peninsula

A New Beginning for Tourism, Sports, and Peace on the Korean Peninsula

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To Korea With Love: Much of the world awoke on September 18th to the hopeful news that the leaders of North and South Korea were meeting in Pyongyang.  On Tuesday evening North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greeted South Korean President Moon Jae-in with a hug. The South Korean President arrived to discuss among other things the end of the Korean Peninsula conflict. Although no one can predict the future, the fact that these two leaders are speaking and seeking some form of Modus Vivendi is good news not only for the people of the Korean Peninsula but also for the entire world.

In the future historians may debate whose vision was responsible for this political thaw. Should the credit go to President Moon Jae-in or to U.S. President Donald Trump or to both?  Analyzing these events might the subject of many future doctoral dissertations.

What we do know is that both tourism and sports played a major role in taking the world from the verge of war to the verge of peace.

We cannot underestimate Tourism’s role in this historic event, and it may be through sports tourism that additional progress is made.

Sports tourism offers the two Koreas many opportunities to interact.  Sporting events allow teams to compete on the playing field rather than on the battlefield.  It allows for national pride without hurting the other side.

Sporting events and sports might well be the key to peace on the Korean Peninsula.  There are multiple reasons for the use of sports tourism as an instrument for peace.  Among these are:

  • Sporting events provide reasons for fans to know each other and understand the other side’s attitudes and needs
  • Sporting events allow international harmony and teamwork
  • Sporting events require collaboration and cooperation in such basic fields as risk management and security

The vehicle of sports tourism will play a vital role in bringing about the blessings of peaceful coexistence not only to the people of Korea but also to the entire world. To accomplish this goal it is necessary to begin to plan immediately. Koreans should not wait for a formal peace treaty but use the vehicle of sports to help realize this goal. Below are some of the ways that the Koreans can use sports tourism as a means to bringing about a peaceful and more prosperous Korean Peninsula

  • Establish a well-publicized annual international peace through sports tourism conference.
    The conferences’ objectives would be:
  • To address tourist related security and safety concerns
  • To help tourism security personnel to create peace through safety and security
  • To produce media that reinforces tourism as a peace and security tool
  • To bring nations together to develop healthy and peaceful competition through tourism
  • To create economic opportunities
  • Create an “All Korean” sports authority
  • Create joint tourism police training courses and provide the Korean Sports Police with international certification
  • Create working groups on such topics as risk management. These working teams would address topics such as:
  • Crisis and Media Management
  • Dealing with political flashpoints in tourism.
  • Facing climatic and ecological challenges
  • Introduction to risk management principles for tourism surety
  • Issues of tourism crimes, tourism terrorism
  • Keeping historical sites secure
  • Tourism as a means to create better international understanding
  • Tourism as a bridge toward peace development
  • Tourism social-psychology

Besides recent high-level events, an “under the radar approach” in both Korea’s participating at celebrations with a touch of sports and Bamboo. Koreans love nature.
A celebration like the Damyang Bamboo Festival will bring attention and help emerging tourism destinations like Damyang.  At the same time, it allows sports and activities to socialize.

Located within a forest of 2.4 kilometers of bamboo, this festival is full of activities celebrating the beauty and function of the bamboo plant. More active visitors can test their skills during some of the festival’s scheduled river sports, such as ‘Log Rafting’ and ‘Water Bicycling’. After working up an appetite, visitors can please their palate with some of Damyang’s famous cuisines and other world foods featured at the Cultural Experience Center.

In North Korea, the Dragon boat races are as popular in North Korea as they are in China, with the annual Dragon Boat Festival taking place at the beginning of spring in early June. A visit to the major event in Pyongyang by a South Korean Delegation would generate a strong message of a self-building friendship.

The road to peace is often long and arduous, and sports and sports tourism teaches us that nothing is gained without practice and headwork.  If sports tourism can help the peoples of Korea to take steps closer to peace, then the entire world comes out as a winner.


The author Dr. Peter Tarlow is an international expert on travel, tourism, and security.
More information on the Tourism Certification Program go to http://certifiedforsafety.com/

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