It is with profound sadness that the International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) learned of the passing of Mira Berman on June 29, 2010. Mira, founder and president of the Bradford Group and executive director of the Africa Travel Association from 1990 to 2006 was an inspiration to all who knew her.
Under Mira’s leadership and guidance, the Africa Travel Association – through its conferences and communications– particularly the Africa Travel Magazine and website, gradually balanced the negative images of Africa portrayed in the main stream media with positive images of diverse and vibrant cultures; magnificent landscapes with abundant and diverse wildlife; and a friendly, welcoming hospitable people as witnessed these past weeks by all who have watched the World Soccer matches.
Mira’s vision and leadership has been a major contributing factor in the dramatic growth of international tourism to Africa over the past 20 years – and for several of the last ten years, the world’s leading region for growth in international tourism. In the words of Africa Travel Magazine editor Jerry Bird, “Mira Berman will be best loved and best known for her outstanding success in ‘Bringing the World to Africa – and Africa to the World.'”
Mira’s direct involvement with IIPT began with the organization and marketing of the 1st IIPT Global Summit, where Mira and the Bradford Group were a key partner, together with title sponsor American Express and IIPT’s host, the Jordan Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities. IIPT’s close and fruitful relationship continued since then for the rest of the decade with IIPT annual events at World Travel Market, two additional summits, four African conferences, and the birthing of the Africa Diaspora Heritage Trail. IIPT was most honored to recognize Mira’s many contributions to a peaceful and sustainable world with its 1st IIPT Lifetime Achievement Award presented at its 4th IIPT African Conference, Kampala, Uganda, 1997.
In presenting the award, IIPT founder and president, Louis D’Amore, said: “It is my great honor to have known and worked with Mira for the past 15 years, and to present this first IIPT Lifetime Achievement Award to Mira Berman – who devoted the prime years of her illustrious career to promoting the magnificent lands, cultures, and peoples of Africa to the world, and building an organization that will continue nurturing the growth of sustainable tourism development on the African continent.”
“Mira’s loss will leave a big vacuum in our professional and personal lives. We know that Mira will be remembered by all those whose lives she has touched for her passion and love for Africa and its people and her commitment to pushing an agenda of increasing tourism and investment to the continent in a sustainable and meaningful way,” said Karen Hoffman, president, The Bradford Group.
“As the executive director of ATA for sixteen years, Mira was instrumental in building the foundation for our organization, committing her time, passion, resources and energy to ATA. Mira devoted her life to making the world a better place and will be remembered as one of the amazing women of our times,” stated Eddie Bergman, executive director, Africa Travel Association.
Mira miraculously escaped the holocaust in the 1940s reaching the United States with her mother and sister to begin a new life in New York City. She was a child prodigy violinist, writer, author – and soon to be marketing and public relations expert. Mira was active on many fronts, serving as executive director of The Academy of Tourism Organizations (ATO) and its NOAH Awards Luncheon; executive director for the Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH) and its Travelers With Disabilities Awareness Week; vice chair, Organizing Committee for the 50th Anniversary Gala Dinner of the United Nations; and the executive committee of the Celebrity Gala Ball to benefit the United Negro College Fund.
Her remarkable achievements have been acknowledged with awards that include Advertising Woman of the Year; The International Film and TV Festival’s Television’s Gold Medal and Grand Award; Tanzania Tourism’s Outstanding Leadership Award; and the International Institute for Peace through Tourism Lifetime Achievement Award.