News Olympic Effort makes Lord Bates the worlds most responsible and sustainable tourist

The DestiNet News editorial salutes Lord Micheal Bates as the worlds’ most responsible and sustainable tourist, congratulating him on the final day of his incredible ultra-marathon walk covering over 2,850 miles from Greece to London, which he started last April (!) to raise awareness about the Olympic Truce that will happen during the six weeks of the London 2012 Games.  Today, he will arrive at the Houses of Parliament in London after 300 days of walking, pack on his back, rain or shine, having set himself a budget of £35 a day, meeitng hundreds of local people on the way to talk up the Truce. His story is recorded on the Walk for Truce web site

Lord Bates is a Conservative Party politician serving in the House of Lords, which makes his effort even more remarkable, as he is a person who is part of the government itself, the government which has called for this summer’s historic UN-backed truce and is at the same time supporting  Britain’s  0.7% Development Aid contribution, even in these times of Western fiscal austerity programmes. 

He has been campaigning for the Olympic Truce to be taken seriously by the 193 UN Member signatories to the Olympic Truce Resolution. He wishes to raise awareness of the truce and to secure support for its observance at the London 2012 Games. 

His Herculean effort should be the highlight of the mainstream media today, but how much coverage will it actually get? One thing that has been noticeable in all the Olympic hype up to now has been the lack of information and initiative on the traditional truce aspect of the Games.  The London 2012 Olympic Peace Campaign has produced a report showing the lack of a strategy to really make the Truce happen, and in the past observance has been token, whihc makes people cynical.

 Now there is an opportunity of making a limited time of peace happen once again, 2000 years after the concept – ekecheiria - was originally used by civilization to create conditions of safe passage for both athletes and spectators to participate in competitive games rather than warfare. There could be no better metaphor or mechanism for our contemporary troubled times than this period of Olympic peace, planned in the UN resolution for July 25th - 9th September.   

How could Lord Bates call for us all to take the Truce more seriously transpire in reality? Well,  the Dragon Year of 2012 is full of opportunity, and in the run up to the London Games,  all UN member states again converge for Rio+20 in Brazil in mid-June, a month before the Games, when they will lay out the next 10 years of global policies to save the planet.  There is an opportunity for good governance on an unprecedented level here that any reasonable politician should be able see - the estimated 2 trillion dollar annual gain to the economy achieved by a 25% reduction in violence (cf ) is just what the world needs right now.  By discussing and developing the concept at Rio and then using the Olympics as a catalyst for a peace-based economic growth process would give a timely recipe that is popular with everyone – except those that are profiteering from this current crisis-ridden low-grade war-based global security-first markets-first economic model of ruthless development that has led us to the brink of socio-economic and environmental implosion.

It does not require a great deal of imagination to see how this fits perfectly into the responsible and sustainable tourism agenda, and tourism stakeholders, especially business leaders and administrators, could take inspiration and courage from Lord Micheal’s walking the walk, and walk the talk themselves. 

Lord Bates supports the call for a One Minute Silence at the Olympic Opening Ceremony to mark the Truce. On his return Lord Bates will be discussing the Olympic Youth Peace Ambassador Training and Assistance programme – an attempt to bring 42 teenagers from conflict zones and areas of violence to the Games to establish a global peace network that can work on the front line of the peace effort.

Gordon Sillence is coordinator of the London 2012 Olympic Peace Campaign.

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Keywords peace,,
Topics Human Rights & Labour Rights