Ajit Gunewardene, president of Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts and deputy chairman John Keells Holdings PLC., said at the Cinnamon Grand on Tuesday, "There is no relevance of GDP numbers to the performance of tourism and hospitality industry. Nothing but the tourism product the country has to offer will have relevance to its performance".
Gunewardene said so at question time after announcing to the media the first summit to be held at the Cinnamon Lakeside Colombo on 28th September (World Tourism Day) based on the theme 'Future of Tourism and Responsible Tourism for Driving Revenue',
The Future of Tourism Summit is powered by SriLankan Airlines, in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and supported by Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB), the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Landor Associates and 230 Interactive Digital Media.
When asked whether the 'confusion' made by the authorities in rebasing GDP numbers and even describing tourist arrival numbers in the past had been 'crooked' could undermine the credibility of the industry, a smiling Gunewardene said," Do you really think that the foreign travellers are keen on our GDP numbers. As far as I know, that's the last thing on their mind when they visit here".
Not stopping at that he went on to ask," Which country did you visit last and what was its GDP numbers at that time? After getting no answer Gunewardene said," All we want it is a clear-cut, well thought out industry policy framework under which we'll be able to operate smoothly".
The Summit will feature an eminent panel of global industry speakers including; Prof. Mohan Munasinghe-UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007), Prof. Sarath Kotagama-University of Colombo, Prof. Roland Conrady-Scientific Director ITB Berlin, April Rinne-Advisor on Shared Economy-World Economic Forum, Shaun Mann- Innovation and Future Technology Specialist IFC- World Bank Group, Dr. Ian Yeoman- World's only professional Futurologist in Travel and Tourism, Shabori Das-Euromonitor International and Dr. Robert Govers- Author/Advisor National, Regional and City Branding.
Meanwhile, speaking at the main panel discussion, Ajit Gunewardene said: "Now more than ever, billions of tourists are traversing the globe freely, seeking out newer destinations. Keeping in line with the 'World Tourism Day' theme of one billion tourists, one billion opportunities, our challenge is to strategize on how we should exploit these opportunities in a responsible manner and deliver a tourism product that will be sustainable in the long term."
Commenting on this joint initiative to promote sustainable tourism, chairman, SriLankan Airlines, Ajith Dias said, "Responsible travel and tourism is becoming the cornerstone of tourism in the future and SriLankan Airlines too aims to be the airline of choice for the responsible global traveller as Sri Lanka positions itself as the regional services hub in Asia."
Courtesy: The Island 9 September 2015