The Tourism Leaders’ Summit & International Symposium organised by the Department of Economics, University of Colombo (UOC) was successfully held on the 28th of September at the BMICH. The UNWTO World Tourism Day was celebrated, showcasing the theme “Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility”, while the International Research Symposium focused on “Integration and Networking of Sri Lanka Tourism Development for All”.
The chief guest for this national summit was Hon. Minister John Amarathunga, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, while the Guest of Honor was Mr. P M Withana, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, with many other distinguished invitees also present at this summit.
In accordance with the World Tourism Day Celebrations, the organising committee had lined up several events to take place around Colombo. The key highlight of the summit was the Life time Achievement Award, for the national contribution to tourism, for Mr. H M S Samaranayake, and also for the Excellence in Industry Award, given to Mr. P M Withana, for his dedicated service to Sri Lankan tourism development. Founder and Coordinator of the Tourism and Hotel Management Studies programme at UOC, Dr. Suranga Silva, was recognised for Academic Excellence Award for his contribution and dedication to the area of tourism studies.
Public events of this series started from the first week of September. The first event of this series took place at the Colombo ‘Good Market’ along with the participation of youth led organizations, which was open to the general public. Participants took advantage of the opportunity they received to study the concept “Tourism for All” in depth, getting connected with those concerned, exchanging views and interacting with many differently able people as well as finding ways to resolve issues of concern connected to the concept.
At the event, there was also an open microphone session encouraging the public to share their views and ideas on the ‘Tourism for All’ theme. There was an ‘Art wall’ prominently placed to express ideas by participants, and balloons branded with ‘Tourism for All’ messages, all of which was weaved into this event; that was poised to provide a new experience to the public. The use of equipment for communities with disabilities, a photo booth with "Tourism for All" props, a talk show by differently abled undergraduates of UOC, celebrity involvement, music and dance performances for all and a sign language session were the highlights of the event. This was held from 9.00am – 5.00pm.
An Art competition, under the theme of “Envisioning Tourism through Unseen Visuals”, with communities with disabilities, took place on the 17th of September at Mount Lavinia Hotel, and it was a day full of joy for all the participants and a spectacular event to remember with the inclusion of a Colombo city tour.
A forum on "Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All" was held on the 19th September at Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute Colombo with the participation of eminent representatives of the industry. Panelists such as Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Chairman of Lanka Sathosa, Dr. Suranga Silva, Mr. Rathnayaka, Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Mr. Vipula Wanigasekara and many others were present.
A schools awareness programme, targeting ten schools in Colombo, and educating them on "Tourism for All", was also held between the 6th and 25th September. This focused on educating school children on concepts such as accessible tourism, responsible tourism and ethical tourism. There was also events encompassing a Tree Planting, a Tourism Day Walk, a Cricket Match, a Tourism Day Quiz and Electronic Media Discussion panels with the Tourism Leaders' Summit & International Research Symposium 2016. These concepts were developed by the Students of the UOC Department of Economics, Tourism and Hotel Management programme, to motivate the future generations who are willing to study tourism as a subject and meet national demand for tourism industry professionals.
Photo caption: In the picture are the chief guest of the Tourism Leaders’ Summit & International Symposium Hon. Minister John Amarathunga, Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs (6th from left), the Guest of Honor Mr. P. M. Withana, Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism (4th from right), Prof. Lakshman Dissanayaka, Vice Chancellor of the University of Colombo (7th From Left), Prof. S. P. Bansal, Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi State University, India (4th From Left) and other distinguished invitees who participated at the summit.