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'Travel to dictatorships helps destroy them': CEO
Sharm El Sheikh,Tahrir Square (Svetlana Grechkina, Ramy Raoof/Flicker (File)

'Travel to dictatorships helps destroy them': CEO

Published: 11 Feb 2011 16:08 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Feb 2011 16:08 GMT+01:00

Pär Kjellin, the CEO of leading Swedish travel package operator Apollo, has argued that travel and tourism to countries with authoritarian regimes helps to undermine them.

Kjellin argued on Thursday that tourism can be a "good and democratic force," making a link between the high volumes of tourists to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia and the ongoing pro-democracy movements.

"The fact that people travel and meet across cultural, religious and political boundaries is a good thing. Visits, even to dictatorships, I believe helps to destroy them. I would argue that tourism, major global travel, is in itself a positive force," Kjellin wrote in an opinion piece in newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) on Thursday.

He continued to contrast these examples with the relative silence of pro-democratic voices in less-visited north African neighbours Libya and Algeria.

He also referred to the role that tourism played in liberating countries such as Portugal and Spain from dictatorships and cited Cyprus' admission into the EU and Turkey's pending membership as examples of the way the industry can help build democracy.

Swedish travel agencies have cancelled more than 70,000 trips to Egypt since uprisings began in the country late last month, according to figures compiled by the Dagens Industri daily on Friday. Travel operator Fritidsresor estimates that it has lost about 30 million kronor ($4.61 million) as a result.

Kjellin drew attention to the difference in the response of the Swedish public to the tsunami disaster in December 2004 in Thailand, a major holiday destination for Swedes, and the relatively weak assistance offered to the devastating earthquake that took place soon after in Pakistan, to which few Swedes travel.

"Receiving visitors presumably raises in many an interest in freedom and democracy. The encounters that tourism creates are a good influence. All conversations and exchanges of knowledge, thoughts and ideas must reasonably affect the country's development," he wrote.

Kjellin concluded by questioning what would happen in Burma or North Korea if those countries opened their borders more to tourists.

The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:22 February 11, 2011 by calebian22
Kind of a self-serving statement that tourism promotes democracy in dictatorships, considering how much money Apollo is hemorraging right now.
18:03 February 11, 2011 by stillwatersrd
Undermining dictatorships, using tanned boobs. Yay, tourism! Go Sweden!
19:02 February 11, 2011 by zooeden
-Yeah right, Lets go to North Korea, imbeciles!!! Who wrote that article????
19:52 February 11, 2011 by ooh456
I totally agree with the article. I was in Egypt recently and you could cut the tension with a knife. The locals realized they were very poor and unfree compared to all the tourists. They know they were being screwed. Egypt might never be a rich country, but the people are very spiritual and proud. I think I read the average Egyptian lives on 5 dollars per day or something. This revolutionary fever is fantastic. I hope it spreads across all military dictatorships. If everyone is not free, then no one is free. Vive la revolution!
21:09 February 11, 2011 by Beavis
Nonsense..utter nonsense... Where do you think all the money created from tourism goes, most of it back to the government! Its a bit like a tobacco company doing a study adn finding that smoking makes you more sociable!
21:22 February 11, 2011 by Swedesmith
@still I knew those tanned boobs were good for something.
19:06 February 12, 2011 by JLondon
If that bimbo to the left of the image is in Egypt....pfftttt I'm on the plane! LOL
20:30 February 13, 2011 by MC7669
Is this why Mr. Kjellin refuse to include Israel on the list of destination due to some miserables Hamas members that demonstrated in front of his office and forced Apollo to stop selling Israel or they will take care that Swedish people will boycott Apollo....So Mr. Kjellin can you explain how do you make your decisions? who are your advices? This is how you are running your business? I will check with Kuoni if this is their policy.......what a shame Mr. Kjellin as a Swede that is very embarrassing
20:37 February 13, 2011 by samwise
selling goods to the nazis is the real force destroying the nazis, I guess. I'll buy travel packages from his competitors in order to destroy them, so the only business left in the market is Apollo.
07:25 February 14, 2011 by MC7669
Mr. SAMWISE poor you! Fördöma det med er

We Swedes must understand, as much as tourists will visit Israel and the Palestinian region such as Jericho and Bethlehem, crosing the borders from Israel to Jordan and Egypt the locals will understand that Tourism built bridges for peace in the region and prosperity ....... if you continue with you poor policy you won't help your friends!! they will stay isolated and the Christieans in Bethlehem will continue to struggle in order to keep the Christian majority and will loos the control on the holy church...but most no peace will be in the region and people will continue to suffer......that is not the way to solve the situation
08:25 February 14, 2011 by Iraniboy
That's very wise I hope their leaders are not listening to his speeches!

Freedom and democracy is spread only when the majority of the people in that country ask for it. This is a very wise approach :)
09:44 February 14, 2011 by samwise
MC7669, yes, yes, the best way to solve difficult situations happens to be the most convenient way. All the people before us are plain stupid, they even believe that they have to suffer and sacrifice in order to accomplish something, they should just consume, entertain and travel, the ones enjoying their lives end up contributing the most to world peace. How could I not see that? Poor samwise...

The peace makers of our time are travel agencies. If they don't get the nobel peace prize this year. there will be revolt in Stockholm, and Pyongyang.
11:35 February 14, 2011 by flintis
Yeah right, only took 30yrs for tourism to undermine the Egyptian Dictator
04:02 February 22, 2011 by Vetinari
So kind of like how buying McD burgers will push them towards bankruptcy then?

And according to the comments here I am not the only one seeing the lack of logical reasoning here
09:29 February 22, 2011 by Rick Methven
@Vet

Simple solution is to spend ALL your money on Apollo package tours to dictatorships and see if Apollo collapses along with the dictatorship.

Money talks, bullshit walks. But some bulshitters can make money if enough people believe their hype
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