Regional Consultation on Tourism Potential in South Asia

Driven by the increasing wealth of Asian countries as a paradigm of shift in Global trade and economy, the Tourism Industry is growing all over Asia. For the 1st quarter of 2010 is quite encouraging, which depicts growth in Tourist Arrivals in South Asia double than correspondence period of 2009.

One of the most significant changes in tourism in recent years has been the concept of interconnections, which is evident at various levels of tourism planning. Strategic alliances between contender enterprises, vertical integration between and across firms, collaboration between public and private sectors and partnerships between countries and regions have become common practice in contemporary tourism.

The Head of States of South Asia at 16th SAARC Summit held on April 29, 2010 while underscoring the need for promotion of tourism to enhance greater people-to-people contacts in the region have called for the creation of tourism-friendly environment in South Asia and welcomed the offer of the Government of Nepal to host the Third SAARC Ministerial Meeting on Tourism in Kathmandu on the eve of Nepal Tourism Year 2011.

As a precursor to the aforementioned Ministerial Meeting on Tourism and to discuss issues pertaining to Tourism Development in South Asia, the SAARC Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SAARC CCI) in collaboration with The Federation of Commerce & Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and supported by Freidrich Naumann Stiftung: Fur Die Freiheit, organized a one day Seminar on “ Regional Consultation on Tourism Potential in South Asia” in Colombo, on Thursday, July 08,2010.

The Seminar was addressed by prominent speakers from South Asian Countries representing Government, Private Sector and academia and discussed important issues.

Mr. Annisul Huq, President, SAARC CCI, Mr. Tariq Sayeed, Immediate Past President, Mr. Kosala Wickramanayaka, President, FCCISL, Mr. Macky Hashim, former President, SAARC CCI ( Sri Lanka), Mr. Shafique Alam Mehdi, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Govt. of Bangladesh addressed the inaugural session. Prominent speakers attended three important sessions,

Mr. Chris Dharmakirti, COO of Strategic Enterprise Management Agency (SEMA) chaired the session on Tourism in South Asia: Potential and Opportunities- country Perspective, which was addressed by prominent speakers like Mr. Mahendra P Lama, Vice Chancellor, Sikkim University-India, Mr. Thuji Dorji Nadik, Director (ES), Plans and Programmes, Tourism Council of Bhutan, Mr. Shahrukh Malik, Vice Chairman- SAARC CCI Young Entrepreneur Forum-Pakistan and Mr. Kalaiselvam, Director General, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Sri Lanka .

Dr. Saj Mendis, Director General, Investment & Tourism of Sri Lanka, Ministry of Economic Development –Colombo, chaired the session “Issues and bottlenecks in promotion of Intra-SAARC Tourism while Mr. Pradeep Kumar Shrestha-VP SAARC CCI, Mr. Kumar Mallimaratchi, Vice President, FCCISL, Mr. Duleep Mudadeniya, Director General Tourism Promotion Bureau, Mr. Anura Lokuhetty, President Tourism Association of Sri Lanka and Mr. Siri De Silva, President, Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Tourism Sri Lanka were respondent to the session.

The participants debated openly on issues like Security and Visa related Problem, Infrastructure & Transportation, Hotel and Hospitality Industry and Government Policies: political and bureaucratic hurdles, Policy regulations.

The set of policy proposals worked out at the conclusion of Conference will be sent to SAARC secretariat for consideration in the forthcoming SAARC Ministerial Meeting on Tourism scheduled on January 14, 2011.