Meeting of tourism experts kicks off in Colombo

Kathmandu, November 4:

A two-day meeting of sub-regional tourism experts from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka began in Colombo today. The meet will discuss sub-regional cooperation on issues of conservation and sustainable development.

The Sixth Tourism Working Group Meeting under the South Asia Sub-regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC), Asian Development Bank’s programme is to be held at the World Trade Centre in Colombo, the ADB stated in its website.

“It is a milestone event, being the first SASEC meeting in Sri Lanka, it marks Sri Lanka’s integration in the SASEC Tourism Development Plan,” said the ADB. The meeting in Colombo will also discuss ADB’s assistance on SASEC Human Resources Development (HRD) and Capacity Building, and a proposed technical assistance grant for preparing a SASEC Tourism Development Project with the objective of upgrading tourism infrastructure.

Recommendations on coordination of sustainable cultural tourism development with the conservation of cultural heritage resources, particularly concerning Buddhist heritage, are expected to be made at the meeting.

“Priority pilot projects will be identified within the context of the ongoing projects, in order to develop best practices in the sub-region,” the ADB said. The ADB, through its SASEC programme, has been supporting the development of a Tourism Development Plan (2004-2014) for the sub-region comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal. Bhutan endorsed the plan in the Tourism Working Group meeting held in Thimphu in May last year.

“The plan was formulated as the main blueprint for tourism development based on two themes: eco-tourism and Buddhist circuits. At the fifth meeting, held in Dhaka in February 2005, Sri Lanka expressed interest in joining the SASEC Tourism Working Group,” the ADB said.