Travel News from Sri Lanka: UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, accompanied by Minister of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, John Amaratunga, Senior Advisor to Minister Felix Rodrigo and Director-General of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Upali Ratnayake The 23rd General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in St Petersburg, Russia concluded on 13 September.
The most important high-level meeting for the global tourism sector was attended by more than 1,300 registered participants from around the world. As the first General Assembly held under Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, the focus was on working to make the worldwide tourism industry more sustainable and affordable, together with a main driver of development and jobs by adopting entrepreneurship, innovation and education.
Minister Amaratunga, who has held the position of Vice President–South Asia Region for the past two years, noted that Sri Lanka, which has experienced both the ups and downs of tourism, has the potential to be a case study for the global industry, particularly in the post-Easter Sunday scenario where recovery was well ahead of projections. Significant achievements described in St. Petersburg include recovering UNWTO’s economic stability, enabling the organisation to provide better value for its increasing network of Member States and affiliate members. The introduction of the UNWTO 2030 Agenda for Africa was a main highlight of the study. The 10-point plan aims to grow the tourism sector of the continent and to use it as a catalyst for economic and social development.
“This General Assembly has shown that the tourism sector is ready to stand up globally and to be considered a leader in the Sustainable Development Agenda and in innovation,” said Secretary-General Pololikashvili. “Tourism must be accessible to all and open to fresh thoughts if it is to fulfill its huge potential as a creator of employment, driver of economic growth and catalyst for equality. As we have seen, countries around the world are ready to meet this challenge, along with private sector leaders.