Political commitment needed for sustainable tourism: Amaratunga

June 22, 2017 (LBO) - The importance of political commitment for sustainable tourism goals, as well as the tools to measure sustainability, was highlighted during an international tourism conference that commenced in Manila, Philippines Wednesday. Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs John Amaratunga, representing Sri Lanka at the 6th International Conference on Tourism Statistics: Measuring Sustainable Tourism, said that while sustainable tourism was important, the tools to measure sustainability were equally important. The conference is being jointly organized by the Department of Tourism, Philippines and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).
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A core component of the conference is the draft of a statistical framework that integrates the various dimensions of sustainable tourism (economic, environmental and social) across relevant spatial levels (global, national and subnational). Sustainable tourism is increasingly relevant in national agendas for its role in fostering economic growth, social inclusiveness and the protection of cultural and natural assets. The conference kicked-off with a Ministerial Roundtable where tourism leaders from UNWTO, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Seychelles, South Africa, Fiji, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, South Korea, China, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Peru, Kenya, Switzerland, Mexico, Spain, France, Egypt, Canada, Belarus, Belgium, and Germany participated. The roundtable focused on the need for more integrated, credible data to manage and promote a more sustainable tourism sector. A Declaration on the need for Tourism Ministers, Statistical Chiefs, and Environmental Officials to work together in developing and implementing statistical tools to assess and measure tourism´s contribution in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was adopted. The UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics, which is organized every 5 to 10 years, serves as a forum to advance and to set an agenda for better understanding of the statistical and planning side of tourism based on international standards. This 6th edition is also an official event to celebrate the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This is now also recognized at the highest international level with the UN General Assembly having adopted four resolutions since 2012 acknowledging the role of tourism in sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals. Tourism Minister John Amaratunga also held a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Tourism of the Philippines, Wanda Corazon T. Teo on the sidelines of the conference.
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