(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Sri Lanka tourism expects a boost by hosting the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (CITES) World Wildlife Conference next May where over 3, 000 foreign delegates and foreign media are expected to participate. On a brief visit to Sri Lanka, the CITES Secretary General Ivonne Higuero pointed out that Sri Lanka tourism is set to benefit from hosting the conference with exposure to international media as well as international delegates who have already planned to travel to Sri Lanka with their family members.
“There will be 3, 000 delegates attending the conference and there could be many more, because Sri Lanka is a special place. The foreign media will be here throughout the period. I know already that many delegates have made arrangements for their holidays either just before or just after the meeting,” she said.
Higuero last Friday had discussions with the Tourism Development, Christian Affairs and Wildlife Minister John Amaratunga, State officials and the event organizers to evaluate Sri Lanka’s ability to host the conference following the conclusion of the political standoff, that dragged on for nearly two months.
The minister assured that Sri Lanka is on track to meet the deadlines set by CITES in preparations for the conference. “The preparation has been made for the CITES conference for the last one year. There was a slight disruption for one and half months which would have created a doubt on your mind as well.
I can assure you now that we are back to normalcy. The government is functioning according to the democratic principles; there is nothing to fear.
“I can assure you that our officials will work on full time basis towards meeting the necessary requirements in order to ensure a successful CITES conference in Sri Lanka in May,” Amaratunga said.Higuero expressed her satisfaction on the progress made in connection to the preparations of the event and urged the full backing of the government to successfully host the event in Colombo.
“We have no doubt of the commitment of Sri Lanka to have this meeting here. I understand that things have stabilised, but what I need to see is that during next few months, we can pull off this together,” she added.
Moreover, she stressed that Sri Lanka would be the ideal location to host the triennial conference due its wildlife and diversity. “Sri Lanka is an excellent place to have such an important meeting, in particular because of its diversity, its wildlife, and its natural protected areas. This is an important meeting at the global level, and we only have it every three years to make decisions concerning the species of flora and fauna endangered,” she said.
According to CITES, it was the first time since 1992 that an island nation going to the conference and the second time the conference is being held in South Asia.