Sept 19, 2017 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister John Amaratunga said his appointment as a Vice Presidential representative of Asia for the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was a recognition of the island as an able tourist destination. “Many were looking forward to being appointed for the position of Vice President for the Asian region, but the outgoing General Secretary of the UNWTO, Taleb Rifai recommended me for this prestigious position,” he said. "As the Vice President of UNWTO I can enhance the image of Sri Lanka in the eyes of the international community as an emerging tourist destination." Minister Amaratunga made these remarks at a ceremony to felicitate him on his recent UNWTO appointment, which was held at the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM). He also spoke about the proposals of the UNWTO and said those proposals would be of immense benefit for developing the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. Tourist arrivals to the island rose 2.5 percent from a year earlier to 190,924 in August with a boost in Indian arrivals, data showed. Arrivals up to August rose 3.5 percent to 1.406 million. Tourism Secretary Esala Weerakoon, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority Chairman Kavan Ratnayake, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Udaya Nanayakkara, SLITHM Chairman Sunil Dissanayake, Sri Lanka Convention Bureau Chairman Prema Cooray and other industry officials were present to felicitate the Minister. The Minister received his appointment at the 22nd General Assembly session of the UNWTO held in China last week.