The first ever endorsement and declaration on ‘Eco Tourism’ in the Asia Pacific region was unanimously resolved and declared as ‘Colombo Declaration’ at the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Regional Ecotourism Conference (APREC 2009), which was held in Colombo.
APREC 2009 was hosted by Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation (SLEF), in partnership with Sri Lanka Tourism and The International Ecotourism Society (TIES). The Conference was declared opened by George Michael, the Chief Guest and theSecretary, Ministry of Tourism, Sri Lanka.
APREC 2009 was mainly aimed at the wider global recognition to regional activities on Eco Tourism. Palitha Gurusinghe, the President, Sri Lanka Ecotourism Foundation, said ‘to give a ‘voice to Asia-Pacific region’ that can be heard in the wider global forum of discussions is one of the main ideas of the Conference. Signing a declaration on the subject is too important to us’.
The Conference also aims to promote and strengthen Community Based Ecotourism (CBE) in the Asia-Pacific region and to increase the competitiveness of CBE products and services worldwide, inter-and intra-regional tourism markets.
APREC 2009 was a brain child of Mr. Gurusinghe, who took the initiative to promote eco tourism in Sri Lanka. According to him, the two day conference was a great success as it was well represented by many foreign resource persons from the Asia-Pacific Region and Sri Lankan participants from multi-stake holders from those actively working in ecotourism and related fields, such as INGOs, NGOs, local/indigenous, communities, private sector, government agencies, donors and people from professional back grounds.
The following Objectives of the APREC 2009 were well focused and ssed at length at the plenary sessions and workshops.
- APREC to serve as an annual platform to bring together industry segments in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss issues and challenges and to strengthen marketing strategies.
- To disseminate information among the CBE organizations of Asia-Pacific region and provide networking opportunities for stakeholders.
- To showcase quality CBE products and services as best practice examples.
- To promote the Asia-Pacific region as an attractive CBE destination.
- To formulate an ‘Asia-Pacific Regional Ecotourism Council’ exclusively for the ‘Asia-Pacific Region’ which could act as a ‘driving force’ to promote ecotourism in the region in its true perspective.