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The UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) together with Sri Lanka Tourism will be organizing a Conference on “Tourism: A Catalyst for Development, Peace and Reconciliation” in Passikudah from July 11 to 14,  2016.

Prominent personalities including the Secretary General of the UNWTO, a number of tourism experts and more than 60 international delegates will be attending this high profile conference.

Sri Lanka Tourism is making use of this opportunity to showcase the country to this influential group so that they could, in turn, deliver a positive message about Sri Lanka to the rest of the world.

The conference is organized to commemorate the golden jubilee of the establishment of Sri Lanka’s formal National Tourism Organization which started off as the “Ceylon Tourist Board” in 1966.

It precedes the declaration in 1967 by the United Nations of the ‘International Tourism Year’ with the tagline ‘Tourism: Passport to Peace’.

Tourism Development Minister John Amarathunga flanked by Tourism sector officials announced the media that the UNWTO conference will be held in Passikuda.

He said that the main objective of the conference is to identify and discuss the close links between tourism, peace and reconciliation as inter-dependent components in their overall political, economic and social cultural dimensions.

He also added that the conference will also discuss local community involvement and ‘peace sensitive tourism’ with the purpose of creating a sense of inclusiveness of the local communities through the greater participation of foreign tourists in socio-cultural activities. “Public private partnerships and ‘peace tourism’ will also be another important topic at the sessions,” Minister told the media.

UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai, Petra National Trust of Jordan Chair HRH, Princess Dana Firas, Tourism Minister of Haiti Guy Didier Hyppolite, Cambodia’s Deputy Tourism Minister Chantha Tith and a team around 60 international delegates will participate in the sessions.

Minister Amarathunga further said that President Maithripala Sirisena will also be participating in the conference on July 12.

The Government had recently launched efforts to broaden the scope for tourism in the country by focusing on areas untapped by the tourism industry.

Thereby, it was planned by the authorities to promote the Eastern Province. In addition, the Government also commenced discussions on the possibilities of commencing domestic airline service from Colombo to the East that would help increase the number of tourists
who visit the area.