Chief guest of the Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Symposium Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amarathunga, (6th from left), Guest of Honour Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman P.M. Withana (4th from right), University of Colombo Vice Chancellor Prof. Lakshman Dissanayaka (7th from left), Indira Gandhi State University, India Vice Chancellor Prof. S.P. Bansal, (4th from left) and other distinguished invitees who participated at the summit
The Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Symposium organised 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 this national summit was Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amarathunga while the Guest of Honour was Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman P.M. Withana 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 Lifetime Achievement Award, for the national contribution to tourism, for H.M.S. Samaranayake, and also the 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 program 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 organisations, 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 abled 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 exhibit ideas expressed by participants, and balloons branded with the 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 a.m. – 5 p.m.
An art competition, under the theme of ‘Envisioning Tourism through Unseen Visuals’, with communities with disabilities, took place on 17 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 19 September at Lakshman Kadiragamar Institute Colombo with the participation of eminent representatives of the industry. Panellists such as Lanka Sathosa Chairman Dr. Rohantha Athukorala, Former Director General Sri Lanka Tourism Dr. Suranga Silva and Ratnayaka, Former Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Vipula Wanigasekara and many others were present.
A schools awareness program, targeting ten schools in Colombo and educating them on Tourism for All was also held between 6-25 September. This focused on educating school children on concepts such as accessible tourism, responsible tourism and ethical tourism. There were 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 and International Research Symposium 2016. These concepts were developed by the students of the UOC Department of Economics, Tourism and Hotel Management program, to motivate the future generations who are willing to study tourism as a subject and meet national demand for tourism industry professionals.