UNWTO confab 2016 kicks off in Sri Lanka

Xinhua – The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), an international travel and tourism body, opened its 2016 conference on 12th July in Passikudha, the eastern coast of Sri Lanka under the theme “Tourism: a Catalyst for Development, Peace and Reconciliation.”

Hundreds of guests including Secretary General of the UNWTO Taleb Rifai, Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs Minister John Amaratunga, a number of tourism experts and more than 60 international delegates attended this high profile conference.

This is the first time that an international level conference was being held in the Eastern Province which was engulfed in the throes of a civil war for nearly 30 years.

The main objective of the conference was to identify and discuss the close links between tourism, peace and reconciliation as inter-dependent components in their overall political, economic and social-cultural dimensions; the contribution of tourism development to this process and the opportunities and challenges faced both by the public and by private sectors and tourism development in areas that were inaccessible to tourists due to the conflict.

Speaking at the ceremony, Amaratunga expressed his confidence that the conference would point out the way forward in making tourism a catalyst in developing the country, while also playing an important role in establishing peace and reconciliation.

The latest figures of tourist arrivals to Sri Lanka for 2015 reached nearly 1.8 million visitors, an increase of 17.8 percent over the previous year and the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) has targeted 2.5 million arrivals for 2016.

Source : http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/07/13/local/87324

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