Tourism Leaders’ Summit 2016 showcases ‘Tourism for All’


The Tourism Leaders' Summit and International Symposium organized by the Department of Economics, University of Colombo (UoC) was successfully held on 28 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 the summit was Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amarathunga, while the Guest of Honor was Chairman of Sri Lanka Tourism, P M Withana. Other distinguished invitees were also present at this summit. In keeping with the World Tourism Day celebrations, the organizing committee had lined up several events around Colombo. The key highlight of the summit was the Life time Achievement Award, for the national contribution to tourism to H. M. S. Samaranayake and also for Excellence in Industry Award, given to 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 awarded the Academic Excellence Award for his contribution and dedication to tourism studies.

Public events commenced from the first week of September. The first event took place at the Colombo 'Good Market' along with the participation of youth-led organizations, which was open to the public. Participants took the opportunity 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.

There was 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 were 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 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.

An art competition, under the theme 'Envisioning Tourism Through Unseen Visuals', with communities with disabilities, took place on 17 September at the Mount Lavinia Hote.It was a day full of joy for participants and an event to remember with inclusion of a Colombo City tour.

A forum on 'Accessible Tourism and Sustainable Development for All' was held on 19 September at the Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute in Colombo with the participation of eminent representatives of the industry. Panelists such as Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Chairman of Lanka Sathosa, Dr. Suranga Silva, Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Vipula Wanigasekara and many others were present.

A school awareness programme, targeting ten schools in Colombo, and educating them on 'Tourism for All', was also held between 6 and 25 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 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.