Tourism is a binding force in social life

Burhanettin Kocamaz, the Honorary President of TCWTA, is confident that collaboriation and mutual help will make partners stronger an more resilient.

Because of its location at the eastern part of the Mediterranean Basin and in close vicinity to the Middle East as well as to Northern Africa, Mersin, being the historical center of the antique region Cilicia has always been aware of the importance of friendly partnership relations to other cities, be they direct neighbors or be they farther away in other regions and even situated on other continents.

Traditionally the city of Mersin as well as the people who lead the city as well as its citizens share the conviction that cities which are related by strong bands of friendship are able to produce more than they would be able to do all on their own, and thus are able to offer its citizens, but also its visitors, much more than it would be possible otherwise. In Mersin we know very well that tourism is a binding force in social life and that friendship, collaboration and mutual help makes partners stronger and more resilient.

We, and I am calling out to fellow mayors here from all over the world, as the elected or in some places also the appointed leaders and administrators of our cities, should be well aware that friendship and a shared social life which create shared values and attitudes can only be brought into life by partnerships which are filled with living energy each new day. History shows us that to merely signing and celebrating agreements between twin cities will not produce the effects we all are hoping for, unless they are filled with life through meetings and contacts between leaders and administrators, but also between citizens, be it on a strictly personal basis or be it on the level of representatives of associations, clubs and similar nongovernmental organizations. Otherwise the signed agreements will remain words on paper and will be taking up place in filing cabinets.

This is what we will endeavor to prevent and, where necessary, to change.

This is why we invited about 100 mayors from all over the world in 2015 to Mersin to meet in the presence of the former governing mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, the former president of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) and acting president of the  Bundesverband der Deutschen Tourismuswirtschaft e.V. (Federal Association of the German Tourism Industry, BTW), Dr. Michael Frenzel, and also the well-known Turkish tourism expert Hüseyin Baraner, with the aim to discuss the impact of tourism and travel on the relations between twin cities all over the world. I and also all my colleagues from all over the world are convinced that tourism and travel are major contributions which help to support and develop close ties between twin sisters and their citizens. This was the reason for us to initiate the foundation of the Twin Cities World Tourism Association (TCWTA).

Unfortunately many negative developments have happened since 2015, including terrorism and bomb attacks and so on. But now the Annual Travel Market of the Pacific Asia Travel Association PATA presents us with the opportunity to propagate our idea to further contacts between twin cities using tourism and travel by announcing the foundation of the Twin Cities World Tourism Association TCWTA also with the support of our first and founding president, Mr. Thomas-Peter Binder who has many experiences relating to cooperations between cities, since he is also the president of the Swiss Association of Mayors. He undertakes to act on behalf of the TCWTA for at least the first two years after its foundation, and I am sure he will make major contributions world wide.

I, as the lifetime honorary president of the TCWTA, pledge to give my very best to support the activities of the TCWTA and to be at your side as long as I find the time and the power to do so, to join workshops, forums and similar activities. I will also ask all my friends and colleagues from all over the world to join our association.

I am convinced that acting together, thinking together, working together and last but not least deciding together will become even more important, because I am also convinced that we as municipalities can offer much more to achieve lasting peace in our world than most people would believe, because it is not always the singular decisions made by global leaders, but the sum of all the smaller and bigger acitivities of municipal and local politics which shape our future. At least we will always be able to bring our citizens together and help them to establish close ties of friendship which will last through difficult and even violent times.

We all live in a single world which we have to share, because there is no other world – at least at the time being – we might go to. We can and should all work together to make this world a better place to live in by helping each other, by listening to our problems and by trying to help to find solutions for these problems. We should not forget that travel and tourism is a very important means to make people meet and enable them to work together. If we all work hard to act along the principle of mutual responsibility, we will be able to attract many more supporters for our idea and to make this new association a big success. And we should all bear in mind that this is not only a mere act of altruism, but also a way to achieve economic success for all our cities. No city, no destination can exist comfortably and with economic success without tourism. So let us embrace tourism and travel also in order to gain more means which we can use to make life for our citizens much easier, healthier and more comfortable and thus, in the long run, also more peaceful.