By Nishel Fernando
Sri Lanka is to host the 32nd Joint Meeting of The World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Commission for East Asia and the Pacific (CAP) and Commission for South Asia (CSA) in 2020.
During its 31st joint meeting held in Thimpu, Bhutan early this month, the members of the joint commission unanimously agreed to hold the 32nd joint CAP-CSA meeting in Sri Lanka in order to support the country in the aftermath of Easter Sunday bomb attacks. A senior government official told Mirror Business that UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili in particular backed Sri Lanka’s candidacy to host the 32nd joint meeting.
India proposed the Sri Lanka’s candidacy in the 31st joint CAP-CSA meeting held in Thimpu while Maldives seconded the proposal. In addition, Sri Lanka’s tourism delegation to Bhutan led by Secretary to the Ministry of Tourism Development, Wildlife and Christian Religious Affairs, S. Hettiarachchi extended an invitation to Pololikashvili to visit Sri Lanka.
The government official noted that Pololikashvili warmly accepted the invitation.
CITES World Wildlife Conference shifted to Geneva from Colombo
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (CITES) World Wildlife Conference has been shifted to Geneva from Colombo citing security concerns following the Easter Sunday bomb attacks.
“This conclusion was reached after a consultation process with the CITES Standing Committee where they expressed their security and other concerns, and after careful consideration of the report of the mission of the United Nations Department of Safety and Security to Sri Lanka to assess the security situation on the ground, and discussions with the Sri Lankan government,” the CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero announced
However, sources from the Tourism and Foreign Affairs Ministries told Mirror Business that the CITES Secretary General was yet to officially inform the Sri Lankan government of the decision reached by the CITES Secretariat.
“We are going to write to the CITES Secretariat to inform us officially that the conference wouldn’t be held in Sri Lanka,” an official said.
He noted that the representative of Geneva-based United Nation affiliated CITES Secretariat who visited Sri Lanka to assess the security situation of the country in late May was satisfied with the security situation and therefore, submitted a favourable report on the country’s security situation to the CITES Standing Committee.
However, an official affiliated to the Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the chair and few members of the CITES Standing Committee insisted on relocating the CITES World Wildlife Conference from Colombo to Geneva mainly raising security concerns.
“The Secretariat concluded that considering security and other concerns expressed by many Standing Committee members and the very tight security conditions under which the meetings would have been held in Sri Lanka, the Conference of the Parties (CoP18), the associated 71st and 72nd meetings of the Standing Committee should be held in Geneva, Switzerland at the earliest possible date,” the office of the CITES Secretariat stated.
The CITES conference was originally scheduled from May 23 to June 3 at the BMICH in Colombo with the participation of over 3,000 foreign delegates
Following the Easter Sunday attacks, Sri Lanka postponed the conference to September this year after considering a request made by the UN affiliated CITES Secretariat, on security concerns and travel advisories.
The CITES World Wildlife Conference will now be held in Geneva from August 16 to 28.