Sri Lanka’s position as a tourist destination will be further consolidated with the newly set industry targets, which include four million tourist arrivals, 600, 000 direct employments and US $ 7 billion revenue from tourism in 2020, said Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga.He was speaking at a press conference held at the Sri Lanka Tourism to unveil the Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference 2018, to be held on October 4-5 at BMICH.
The Tourism conference is being organized by the Alumni Association of Tourism Economics and Hospitality Management and the students of the Tourism Study Programs of the Department of Economics, University of Colombo for the fourth consecutive year in Sri Lanka. This coincides with the official ceremony of UNWTO World Tourism Day in Sri Lanka.
The Minister said he is confident that the tourism conference 2018 will provide an opportunity for constructive dialogue on tourism policy development measures while ensuring sustainable tourism development activities in Sri Lanka which will help prepare the industry to achieve the two-fold growth of arrivals in to the country.
“While we work towards making Sri Lanka tourism as the leading revenue generator of the country, we must also be conscious of not killing the goose that lays the golden egg in the process of managing our tourism resources. In addition we need to maintain our cultural integrity, ecological process, biological diversity and life support systems that sustain our tourism assets,” he said.
According to the Minister, development of sustainable tourism is a key aspect to the long- term sustainability of the industry and industry needs best brains in the country to map out routes to sustainability while meeting the needs of the tourist stakeholders.
“We need to focus on engaging the local communities in promotions and sustainable development through capacity building. We have to look at sustainable promotion of potential sectors while increasing the opportunities for social contacts.Minister also pointed out that it is also imperative to adopt business practices, which will lead to realize sustainable tourism goals particularly to achieve the UN Sustainable Development goals.
He also said that tourism has become the passport to prosperity of many countries and Sri Lanka is no exception. However, he said that prosperity will depend on how Sri Lanka manage local tourism sector.“This is where we require the inputs of academics in order to ensure and enshrine sustainability at every level of eco tourism,” he said.