Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands John Amaratunga
Sri Lanka Tourism celebrated World Tourism Day on 27 September, focusing on the UNWTO’s theme for this year, ‘Tourism for all – Promoting Universal Accessibility’.
This year’s theme is of special significance to Sri Lanka Tourism as it works towards implementing the statutory requirement of making the country’s tourism sites accessible to all visitors.
This year’s official celebration was held at the auditorium of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management with the participation of all tourism industry stakeholders. The day’s program included unveiling the ‘50 best tourism experiences in Sri Lanka’, launching of the documentary ‘Adaraneeya Sri Lanka’ and a seminar on ‘Tourism for all – Promoting universal accessibility’.
The distinguished speakers at the event included Minister of Tourism Development, Christian Religious Affairs and Lands John Amaratunga and Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman P.M. Withana.
Issuing a special message to mark World Tourism Day 2016, Tourism Minister John Amaratunga noted, “This year’s theme of ‘Tourism for all – promoting universal accessibility’ is of greater relevance to us here in Sri Lanka as we are now on the cusp of rapid growth in both tourism infrastructure development and hotel inventory. It is indeed the right time for us to plan ahead and make Sri Lanka a success story in providing accessibility to all in this part of the world.”
The minister added, “We need to start by facilitating our own physically challenged people who are eager to explore their motherland but hesitate to do so due to inadequate facilities. As a country that has emerged from a three decade long war that has left thousands of its citizens with various disabilities, Sri Lanka is obligated to put in place the basic facilities needed to ensure both the safety and comfort of physically challenged people. We must also make every effort to use modern technology to remove barriers for people with special needs such as hearing and visual impairments.”
Launching of the documentary ‘Adaraneeya Sri Lanka’ became a major part of the event which is a major domestic tourism promotional program designed to showcase lesser known tourist attractions in Sri Lanka coinciding with the Golden Jubilee of Sri Lanka Tourism. Under this program action is taken to produce and telecast a series of activities to promote domestic tourism titled along with the tagline ‘Dakimu, Widimu and Rakimu’. It is also planned out to produce a travel documentary covering lesser known tourist attractions in the island consisting 27 episodes to be telecast by the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation.
The seminar on ‘Tourism for all – Promoting universal accessibility’ discussed the areas of policy and regulatory framework for accessible tourism, good practices and making enabling environment for accessible tourism. The resource persons for the seminar are Ministry of Social Empowerment and Social Welfare Director (Planning) M. Ramamoorthy, National Institute of Social Development School of Social Work Lecturer S. Hariharathamotharan and Tourist Hotels Classification Committee member Vijitha Perera.