UNWTO rec­og­nizes Sri Lanka’s rise as global tourism des­ti­na­tion

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - TOURISM/AVI­A­TION -

Sri Lanka’s rise as a global tourism des­ti­na­tion was rec­og­nized at the 22nd An­nual Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion that is cur­rently un­der­way.

The bi-an­nual meet­ing is cur­rently taking place in Chengdu, China from the 11th to the 16th of Septem­ber. It will dis­cuss how to ad­vance the con­tri­bu­tion of tourism to the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals (SDGS) and de­fine the ac­tions of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the pe­riod 20182019.

Sri Lanka is be­ing rep­re­sented at this meet­ing by the Min­is­ter of Tourism De­vel­op­ment and Chris­tian Re­li­gious Af­fairs, John Amaratunga who was be­stowed with the honour of be­ing elected as a vice chair of the UNWTO Gen­eral As­sem­bly by the Committee on South Asia. “This ap­point­ment shows the recog­ni­tion that Sri Lanka has gained as an up­com­ing tourism des­ti­na­tion. It will help me to por­tray Sri Lanka and its unique at­trac­tions to the lead­ers of world tourism. It is in­deed an honour and I will lever­age this ap­point­ment to put Sri Lanka in the world tourism spot­light,” said Min­is­ter Amaratunga. Sri Lanka Tourism has fought mul­ti­ple bat­tles through­out this year start­ing from the air­port clo­sure for four months, to the dev­as­tat­ing floods in the south to the garbage cri­sis fol­lowed by the dengue is­sue, all of which have been neg­a­tively high­lighted by the in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

“These un­for­tu­nate events which were be­yond our con­trol have ob­vi­ously had a neg­a­tive im­pact on ar­rivals this year and it is only now that there is a con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment for in­bound tourism.

De­spite all this it is in­deed re­as­sur­ing that ar­rivals are be­gin­ning to pick up once again and we are very con­fi­dent of achiev­ing our tar­gets for this year,” noted Min­is­ter Amaratunga, adding “I hope there will not be any other dis­rup­tions in the next four months.” Mean­while Sec­re­tary-gen­eral, World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNWTO) Dr. Taleb Ri­fai, de­scribed the 22nd UNWTO Gen­eral As­sem­bly as a “A unique op­por­tu­nity to get the sec­tor united to­wards the com­mon goal of mak­ing tourism a true driver of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.”

Min­is­ter Amaratunga was also a pan­elist on the high-level de­bate on tourism and SDGS. A spe­cial ses­sion on smart tourism, the cel­e­bra­tions of the In­ter­na­tional Year of Sus­tain­able Tourism for De­vel­op­ment 2017, the con­ver­sion of the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics into an in­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion and cur­rent trends of the tourism sec­tor are in­cluded in the agenda of the 22nd ses­sion of the UNWTO Gen­eral As­sem­bly. The As­sem­bly will also dis­cuss an ac­tion plan and key pri­or­i­ties of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the next two years.

Min­is­ter of Tourism De­vel­op­ment and Chris­tian Re­li­gious Af­fairs, John Amaratunga be­ing greeted by Sec­re­tary-gen­eral, World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNWTO) Dr. Taleb Ri­fai on his elec­tion as a vice chair.

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