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Tourism for Peace?

Reflections on a Village Tourism Project in Cyprus

Julie Scott

On 1 May 2004, the Republic of Cyprus entered the European Union, unaccompanied by the Turkish-Cypriot population in the northern third of the island. The Green Line - the militarized border marking the cessation of hostilities in 1974 - now defines the outer edge of the European Union, creating a fluid and uncertain borderland which has become the focus for ongoing attempts to construct both the new Cyprus and the new Europe. Tourism has a central and contradictory role to play in these processes. It offers an avenue for stimulating economic activity and raising income levels in the Turkish-Cypriot north, and presents an opportunity to develop complementary tourism products north and south which could widen the appeal of the island as a whole and promote collaborative ventures between Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots. On the other hand, such developments face strong resistance from sections of the population north and south, who fear they will lead either to the legitimation and tacit recognition of the Turkish-Cypriot state in the north, or to a return to relations characterized by Greek-Cypriot dominance and Turkish-Cypriot dependence. The paper reflects on the author's involvement in a village tourism development project in Cyprus in 2005-2006 in order to explore what an anthropological approach to the use of tourism for political ends can tell us about conflict, and when, and under what conditions, tourism might be a force for peace and reconciliation.

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