Sri Lanka a land of respect says UNWTO Chief

  • Highlights importance of technology for secure and seamless travel
  • Says world is determined with travel and digital revolution 
  • Urges stakeholders to build responsible, committed tourism sector for economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace

IN-2The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai last week termed Sri Lanka a land of visit, respect and enjoy, while commending its outstanding performance in 2016 with over two million tourist arrivals.

In his remarks at the PATA Annual Summit 2017 at Jetwing Beach, Negombo, Dr. Rifai spoke on the ‘wonders’ of Sri Lanka as a destination that he has come to love adding, “People travel to places they respect culture, people, history and Sri Lanka is such a destination.”

Noting that 2016 was a great year for Sri Lanka he said the country surpassed two million tourist arrivals for the first time in its history while posting a growth of 14%.

He said this year’s PATA Summit theme ‘Disruption. Innovation. Transformation: The Future of Tourism’ is extremely timely given the fact that the world is determined with two main revolutions of travel and digitalisation.

“This is the age of travel with millions exploring and crossing borders. We need to use technology to develop better and new experiences, along with same, secure and seamless travel,” he said.

According to him over 1.2 billion people crossed borders and 2016 in general was indeed a great year of travel and tourism.

UNWTO forecasts, international travel will reach two billion travellers from the current 1.2 billion in the next 15 years. These two billion travellers will head to destinations that create market share by strategically investing in sustainable tourism.

Hinting that this is likely to be his last official assignment as he steps down as Secretary General, Dr. Rifai said: “The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development making this a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalise its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation.”

 

Source : FT

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