Tourism Leaders’ Summit: Forum for tourism challenges | Sunday Observer

Tourism Leaders’ Summit: Forum for tourism challenges

Prof Rev. W. Wimalaratana, Head, Department of Economics, University of Colombo accompanying President Maithripala Sirisena at the 3rd installment of the Tourism Leaders’ Summit in 2017.
Prof Rev. W. Wimalaratana, Head, Department of Economics, University of Colombo accompanying President Maithripala Sirisena at the 3rd installment of the Tourism Leaders’ Summit in 2017.

It is once again that time of the year for graduates and academics attached to the Colombo University’s Tourism Study Programmes at its Department of Economics, Faculty of Arts. The excitement has already set in. Every day is a battle against time to make all preparations foolproof. Thus, the stage is being set.

September 27 marks, World Tourism Day (WTD). The occasion is welcomed by all nations involved in tourism, as it provides an invaluable opportunity to bring all of the industry’s stakeholders together to encourage discussions of development and promotion among many other topics.

In this backdrop and corresponding to the past three years, Alumni Association of Tourism Economics and Hospitality Management (AATEHM) and students of the Tourism Study Programmes(TSP) are nurturing the much anticipated Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference that is due to be held parallel to the official celebration of United Nations World Tourism Organization declared World Tourism Day, in Sri Lanka. The Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference will be preceded with a series of co-related events inaugurated under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs together with key stakeholders of Sri Lanka Tourism.

Digital literacy

The theme for WTD is ‘Tourism and the Digital Transformation’, which gives exposure to the journey of becoming digitally literate in an ever-evolving industry.

AATEHM and students of the TSP are burning the candle at both ends this year to make the upcoming event- that will take up a slightly different theme, ‘Integration of Global Value Chains for Sustainable Tourism Development in Sri Lanka: Inclusiveness, Coopetition and Innovation’ to be launched on October 4 and 5, 2018 at the BMICH- a success and probably even better, than the summit and symposium were in the past three years. The organisers are determined to make each event different and better than the ones before, and to date they have kept this promise.

“Tourism Leaders’ Summit has significant value to the tourism industry in our country,” says Director General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) and TSP’s Senior Industry Coordinator Upali Ratnayake, adding, leaders of tourism, both nationally and internationally, come together at the event to share their experiences and analysis related to tourism, on one stage.

This paves the way for the SME sector and other stakeholders to be updated and aid them to gear up to face future challenges. In turn, it helps to “put an effort to convert our challenges into an opportunity for a better tomorrow,” Ratnayake added in a positive tone.

The major objective of the Summit and Conference is to provide a constructive dialogue to deliver the most required policy and management applications to strengthen sustainable tourism development in Sri Lanka, under the guidelines of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The summit will be marked by the presence of global and local industry stakeholders, policy-makers, professionals and academics, while President Maithripala Sirisena will be the Chief Guest. If there was ever a platform to share knowledge regarding tourism and shape its future this seems the ideal one.

“One of the major themes we are looking at this year is ‘coopetition’ that is a very important discussion we need to have as the tourism industry is highly competitive,” says founder and Academic Coordinator of TSP Dr. D. A. C. Suranga Silva. Coopetition is the collaboration of business competitors of an industry to work together for a common goal.

Dr. Silva explains the tourism industry can be highly destructive as competition increases, and the best way to protect tourism and resources that ignite tourism is by businesses uniting and working responsibly in the sole bid of achieving mutual benefits.

As tourism is a knowledge driven industry, Dr. Suranga says, this platform offered by the TSP will provide the rare opportunity for intellectuals to share their experiences and thoughts that can be incorporated in the future ventures Sri Lanka is to undertake.

Meanwhile, the event will also include an awards distribution to identify key persons, actively involved in making Sri Lanka’s tourism industry a triumph- namely, Professional Excellence in National Contribution for Sri Lanka Tourism Development, Lifetime Award of National Contribution for Sri Lanka Tourism Development and Promotion, Excellence in Leadership for Sri Lanka Tourism Development and Academic Excellence in National Contribution for Sri Lanka Tourism Education Award.

Driving tourism forward

Commenting on the upcoming summit and international conference, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said, he warmly welcomes this initiative by the University of Colombo to provide a stage for intellectuals and experts to deliberate and discuss about initiatives that can be taken up to drive the tourism industry forward.

“Academics involved in this event are much interested in sharing their knowledge and contribute to the development of tourism in Sri Lanka,” Minister Amaratunga told the Sunday Observer.

The Minister has participated in all three of the previous events, and pledges to provide his fullest support to make this year’s instalment event successful.

He added that theoretical knowledge and research are very useful in redefining the tourism sector of a country and the proposals forwarded at the Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference will be embraced when planning Sri Lanka’s future in this highly competitive industry.

 


“SammaSankappa: Right Intention Through Buddhist Tourism”

Sri Lanka’s first ever International Buddhist Tourism Summit is due to be auspiciously launched at Ridi Viharaya in Kurunegala on October 2.

The event, which will precede the Tourism Leaders’ Summit and International Tourism Research Conference, is organised by the Alumni Association of Tourism Economics and Hospitality Management and students of Tourism Study Programmes (TSP) at the University of Colombo and backed by the Ministry of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Buddha Sasana. It will see key tourism and Buddhist figures from across the globe coming together in one sacred venue to engage in a meritorious journey.

Held under the timely theme “A Simple-Life and Middle-Path for Responsible Religious Tourism Development: A Story of Untapped Potential” the summit will explore Sri Lanka’s potential to promote Buddhist Tourism by focusing exclusively on innovative tour packages, introducing trails, and also merging other tourist destinations, especially, in South Asia, to entail more exposure from potential tourists.

The event will help promote Buddhist Tourism in Sri Lanka and transform it into a sought-after Buddhist tourist destination, says lecturer in charge of the event Sampath Siriwardena.

He added that it will also serve to create a platform for industry stakeholders to explore the Best Buddhist Tourism Practices of the other Buddhist tourist destinations in the world while exploring most suitable strategies and ways to promote a more inclusive, socio-culturally and environmentally responsible Buddhist tourism development in the country.

In the meantime, an International Buddhist Tourism Centre will be ceremoniously installed at RidiViharaya parallel to the summit. The centre will serve the sole purpose of creating awareness regarding Buddhist sites in the island to exploring tourists. It will be a hub that offers information regarding Buddhist pilgrimages, sacred and historic sites, Buddhist festivals, Buddhist literature and, art and craft, the country is blessed with.

Interestingly Tourism Research Academic Circle (TRAC) of TSP will present the International Buddhist Tourism Summit publication that incorporates Buddhist Tourism promotional articles, which overlooks key areas Sri Lanka should focus on in order to successfully upgrade herself as a key destination offering experiences related to the focused subject, and will also be inclusive of an invaluable calendar illustrating key Buddhist events held in the country across the year.

The Keynote Speaker of the event is Audrey E. Kitagawa the Chair-Elect of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and currently a Trustee and Chair of the Programmatic Areas Committee and the United Nations Task Force of the Parliament.

For more information: www.tourismleaderssummit.org/ibts

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