COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – “More than one billion tourists travel to international destinations every year. These tourists have made tourism a leading economic sector, contributing 10% of global GDP and 6% of the world’s total exports. Yet these big numbers represent more than just economic strength – they reflect tourism’s vast potential and increasing capacity to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including socio-economic growth, inclusive development and environmental preservation.”
Secretary-General of UNWTO, Mr. Taleb Rifai
For over half a century now, tourism has been constantly expanding and at an even faster pace than international trade. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation predicts that this trend would today appear to be irreversible with international arrivals recording over a billion tourists worldwide and predictions of reaching 1.6 billion in 2020.
Although the traditional popular destinations still dominate the ranks; the Asian continent together with the newly industrialized countries have created a market of inquisitive tourists who are improving in numbers at a faster rate than the global average. For these countries where economic activity is often based on a handful of sectors of activity, tourism provides real potential for diversification. It provides valuable foreign currency exchange and government revenues through taxation and can be a major source of employment as well as a vehicle of economic and social progress.
As the theme ‘One Billion Tourists: One Billion Opportunities’ indicates, focus on the opportunities and challenges increase for contemporary society. This growth launches a challenge to all the sectors involved in this global phenomenon: tourists, businesses, governments and local communities and of course the environment. Thus the billion tourists should necessarily be considered above all in their billion opportunities.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization has launched this year’s World Tourism Day (WTD) campaign, highlighting the transformative potential of one billion tourists.
In keeping with the expectations of the UNWTO, the Economics Department of the University of Colombo together with the Sri Lanka Tourism development Authority have made all arrangement to spark conversation surrounding the impact tourism can have on a global scale, such as its ability to drive inclusive development, create jobs and build sustainable societies. All events organized in Jaffna, Colombo and Kandy aims to raise awareness among the local community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value. The events lined up from 23- 27 September are as follows:
23 September Career Guidance Programme for the youth University College, Central college, St Patrick’s College – Jaffna
25 September Tourism Summit
Felicitation of Chef Dr Pubilis BMICH – Committee Room B
25 September Blood donation camp
Career Guidance Programme for youth Queens Hotel
Trinity College, Hillwood College – Kandy
26 September Tourism Day Walk
Tourism Opportunity Mart
Industrial Training Program
AGM – Alumnae of Tourism Programs- Department of Economics (University of Colombo) Kandy Railway Station – Kandy City Center
Kandy City Hotel
Earl’s Regency- Kandy
27 September Interschool Quiz Competition
Organized by the students of Ladies College- Colombo 7
Medical Camp Hillwood College- Kandy
Hunnas Falls – Kandy
The Sri Lanka tourism sector has achieved many successes and confirmed its role as an important economic sector of the country. The industry has registered a 16.8% cumulative performance growth and 31.4% July performance crossing the 1million visitor mark touching a $1.3 billion in revenue receipts as per the latest Central Bank data said SLTPB in the media release.
Even the number of domestic trippers increased sharply since 2010 with promising figures from the diaspora retuning regularly to pick up ties with family and friends.
The significant contributions to the socio-economic development of the country through tourism has resulted in a contribution of 6% to the island’s GDP which opens doors to new jobs contributing to higher economic status of the local communities
In response to the World Tourism Day this year, the students following Diploma, Executive Diploma, Post Graduate Studies and Masters in Tourism of the Department of Economics of the University of Colombo invites everyone to enjoy the fruits of tourism and its billion opportunities. As tourism practitioners they disseminate the message of the Secretary-General of UNWTO, contributing to raising awareness of authorities at all levels and communities about the role and position of tourism and measures to develop tourism towards sustainability and environmental protection.