When we ask people why they travel, about 40 percent will say they travel to broaden their horizons, to meet new people, learn about new places and cultures. Whether they also nab time to walk a beach or make a business connection is beside the point.
This result comes from research my company commissioned from the Penn Schoen Berland group. That same study found that travel – more than diplomacy, the internet and television – can be the most effective means to breaking down cultural barriers.
This is an important point any day. But I make it today, on the U.N. International Day of Peace. We have has just partnered with the NGO Peace One Day to help raise awareness and activation around Peace Day. Why? Because travel is an integral part of the peace equation.
The more people experience other countries and cultures, the more peace will spread. That’s what 77 percent of more than 1,000 respondents – frequent global travelers from around the world — said in our study.
“Traveling opens our eyes to new cultures, new experiences, and new ways of thinking.”
“People are more alike than different, regardless of their culture.”
“Travel teaches us that seeing the world from different angles cultivates a fuller and more well-rounded view of each other.”
Those are a few of the tweets from the #MIpeacechat Twitter chat I hosted today on the topic of travel and how cultural experiences can foster understanding, indeed plant more seeds for peace to spread. The conversation included personal testimonials about how a trip changed a worldview and how a new friend changed a perspective.(The photo above was from one tweeter.)
The concept of peace can seem too awesome, too elusive, too hard to imagine as a reality. But, in truth, a conversation or an experience that crosses cultural boundaries — whether in a backyard or a foreign country — creates new understanding, pushes us closer to peace.
Do you agree? How has travel created peace for you?
Mari Snyder is the Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility at Marriott International, Inc. She has held several Director-level positions with Marriott, and earlier in her career she worked in management for Mars, Inc. Mari is on the School of Business Advisory Council at St. Bonaventure University, her alma mater. Follow her on LinkedIn.