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NAFSO meets UN- World Tourism Organisation representatives at the Golden Jubilee of SL tourism board

Written By NAFSO on Monday, July 25, 2016 | 11:41:00 AM

Sri Lanka tourism has celebrating its 50 years of existence this year. At the same time Sri Lanka tourism Minister and the chairman have requested to the UNWTO to conduct the International conference of UNWTO in Sri Lanka this year. the request was accepted by the UNWTO and the Secretary General because the conference was proposed to hold at Pasikuda in the Eastern province of Sri Lanka. Eastern province is war affected area and they is a need for development. 
the conference was held in the theme of Catalyst of Peace, Reconciliation and Development at Amaya Beach hotel in Pasikuda on 12th and 13th July 2016.






1. The conference proper 

It was mainly presentations and no time for Q & A
The GA (Mrs. Charles) presentation was most substantial and relevant in my view. She raised issues about farmers, unemployment etc. She also stressed importance of community based tourism, Eco-tourism etc. But said no point having "same old mass tourism with new labels". And mentioned there's damage caused by conventional tourist organizations. Also called to regionalize tourism. Later, privately to me, she said finalizing a plan and to give input. 

Few other speakers talked about importance of community participation, benefits to local community. Cambodian deputy minister mentioned how they use former combatants as tour guides. 

Vinya (Sarvodaya leader) had one slide about more than 100,000 civilians killed, also LTTE and military killed, other effects of war and said we are not post conflict, but in post war. Other than that, he talked about Sarvodaya tourism, volunteerism etc. Didn't raise issues we had raised in article 

At one point, John Amaratunga asked SG on WTO whether tourism in SL is going in right direction. SG said yes. 

2. Private meeting with SG of WTO 
We expected to meet him and few officials...but he came with delegation of about 12-15. Several officials of WTO, key note speaker Princess Dana. About 3-4 officials from SLTDA, Chair of SLTDA, Chair of SL Paddy Withana, Chair of SL Tourist Hotel Association & Jetwing Chair Hiran Cooray. Chair of Malu Malu Chandra Wickramasinghe was also there. They initially said 30 min meeting. But went for 2 hours, so it seems they took us seriously?

Rajan and Sashi from NAFSO, me and 3 community representatives from Pasikudah, Kuchaveli and Panama was in our delegation. 

We raised usual issues...land grabbing, effect on livelihoods, restrictions on cultural-social life, militarization. Also raised about national anthem being sung in Sinhalese at opening ceremony and information note to participants saying Sinhalese is only official language. SG apologized on national language issue. SLTDA didnt apologize. 

Chandra of Malu Malu talked about employing majority of local staff, including at mid-senior positions, including ex combatants, establishing computers / Emglish centres etc. etc. Also that he buys fish from local fisherfolk. 

SG stressed importance of principles, said accepted tourism must not negatively affect local populations, but said can't on into details about specific problems we presented. But he said fisherfolk and farmers must also be open to change and implied they could join tourism industry. Fisherman from Pasikudah reacted strongly and said fisherfolk and farmers must be allowed to continue their traditional livelihoods. There was quite a bit of argument with SG. But in end, SG agreed fisherfolk and farmers should not be forcibly be assimilated to tourism industry. 

There was also tension in terms of militarization. Hiran Cooray agreed military shudnt run hotels said he had also raised it with Army Commander. But he, SLTDA Chair and others also defended Army performing at the conference. I said militarization is accused of serious crimes and their involvement in tourism is counter productive to peace and reconcilliation. And said taking navy boats (as indicated in information note) makes the WTO and the conference complicit in militarized tourism. 

The 3rd serious tension and argument was when I said SG shouldn't have told SL tourism was heading in right direction, without voicing any concerns. He was very upset and said I can't say that. 

SG reacted stronglly to both and and asked me to withdraw both "accusation", and said he will stop the meeting, but I didn't withdraw and said that's my opinion. Meeting continued. 

SG said several times for us to have more communication and dialogue with SL persons at the table. I said there have been dialogues and when there's no results, confidence and hopes in dialogue reduces. And that there's no need for dialog on cases where there's court decisions, HRCSL directives and cabinet decisions - what's needed is implementation. But that on principle, we are ready to dialog. 
--

Some suggestions for next steps:
1. Detailed letter to SG from concerned SL groups and individuals, highlighting key issues, policies and practices, but also specific cases that we would like them to take up with SL Govt ....like Panama, Kuchaveli, Kalpitiya, Pasikudah...must include documentation and details as much as possible)
(Must make it public)

2. Similiar letter SLTDA and seek a more serious meeting 

3. Same to SL Hotels Association 

4. Complain to authorities about national anthem in Sinhalese and telling participants only official language is Sinhalese 

People says "Yes" and "No" to Negombo lagoon development process

Written By NAFSO on Friday, July 22, 2016 | 3:09:00 PM

Negombo Lagoon Development Process Has Been Questioned by a lagoon fishermen and they conducted a protest against the process carryout by the authorities. Negombo lagoon bank near main fish market is filling with mud, taking from lagoon bed and the purpose is to construct a vehicle park and a jogging track. According to the fishers who oppose the work, plan was to dug and remove 2 feet of mud from and fill up to 10 meters from the parallel road. but now they are digging more than 10ft of the lagoon bottom and filling around 20m from the road. 
lagoon boundary is covered with well grown mangroves in some parts and other areas use by fishers for economic activities, as settling areas as well as boat landing sites.   

at the later stage of the protest another group of people from the area conducted a demonstration against the people who oppose the way of plan implementing, saying it is really necessary work to do as most of the time in day time, road is stuck with traffic.  According to them this work is the best thing to do by the government to reduce traffic in the area.  

People in both group agreed that the destroying of environment in unnecessary way must prevent as it belongs to the future and the next generation.  In vicinity of the lagoon bank and water we recognised dying fishers and millions of shrimp larva as well as destroyed mangrove areas.   


 Say No to filling  
 Say No to filling 
We need a parking place
We need a parking place





  

Catholics and fishermen against land expropriation for tourism development

Written By NAFSO on Thursday, July 14, 2016 | 2:49:00 PM


A UN-sponsored international conference on tourism is currently underway in Sri Lanka. Local Catholics, fishermen and activists planned a protest until they were deterred by Sri Lanka’s CID. Critics bemoan the negative impact on the local population, who were not invited to the event. Tourist development “will benefit only big business.”

Colombo (AsiaNews) – Sri Lanka’s Tourism Ministry is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Parallel to that, a four-day international conference (11-14 July) is currently underway in Pasikudah, Batticaloa District (Eastern Province) under the auspices of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

However, land expropriations for tourist development in Sri Lanka "do not create any kind of development, peace and reconciliation among Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese and Tamil,” say critics who spoke to AsiaNews.

Rights activists, fisher people, and Catholics oppose the conference because it is designed mainly "to attract big investors, businesses and corporations that can finance and develop the tourism sector following the civil war."

What big international institutions and President Maithripala Sirisena’s government forget is that people want only one thing: to have their land back.

As the guest of honour, the president himself is scheduled to address the conference tomorrow when it closes.

Various social groups led by the National Solidarity Movement along with the Praja Abhilashi Network and the Peoples' Alliance for Right to Land had organised a number of counter meetings on the margins of the official conference.

“Activists wanted to put the spotlight on the conditions of local communities,” said Francis Raajan, Praja Abhilashi Network coordinator. “However, CID* officials summoned protest leader to the Valachchanai police station and warned them not to demonstrate. The also threatened to stop fishermen from fishing during the conference unless they scrapped their planned protest.”

"After the warning, our fishermen were frightened. We were forced to stop everything,” said P. Nevil Christy Cooray, a Catholic fisher leader.

“It was really painful that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasignhe came to tell us that we should give up our fishing areas to make room for hotels. Although a leader of the people, he did not inquiry about our pain."

The man is not tender with UN agency as well, since the latter supports this type of "tourist expropriation".

Other people are saying that the government plans to set up elephant corridors to attract tourists.

A. Saleema, a Muslim woman living at Kalpitiya, a group of islands, said that that the previous government under Mahinda Rajapaksa seized her land and destroyed her crops.

Activist Ruki Fernando is also upset that the international conference was organised without any local input.

"No one knew anything,” he said. “Neither fish industry operators nor restaurant and hotel owners knew anything. Local war victims will get nothing out of this meeting, which will benefit only big business.”

* CID: Central Investigation Department

Source: Asianews.it 

Report: Melani Manel Perera 

Northern Fishers Protests against Government

Written By NAFSO on Wednesday, July 13, 2016 | 10:55:00 PM

The government has decided to give licence to indian trawlers to enter in to SL EEZ and conduct the fishing operations. Fishermen from North fought against innovation of SL waters by indian fishers for more than 6 years and conduct discussion with the SL government and indian fishing societies as well. 
Non were responded positively except some proposals from indian fisher community including time allocation for them (180 days for a year) until they slowly stop their operations with time. as the previous fisheries minister Mr. Rajitha Senarathne oppose to accept the mutually built solution by communities the discussions failed and destruction continued with bottom trawling by hundreds of indian boats daily.  

present government under the president Mithripala Sirisena and Prim Minister Ranil Wicramasinghe has decided to  licensing of indian trawlers  to allow enter in to SL waters. 

Northern Fishers have demonstrated their opposition over government decision protesting in front of Northern Provincial Council on 12th July 2016. 

     Some News Links






Call For the UNWTO to stand against community displacing tourism

Written By NAFSO on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | 3:05:00 PM

"Until 1977 there was no tourism in Pasikuda or near area, there was only fishermen and do the job in the coastline in Pasikuda with wooden canoes and Vallam.   "Sun & Fun" and "Imperial" hotels came later. We did our job without any disturbance, but after Tourism developed we were chased 3 times in to 3 places. Recently, our prim minister visited twice to the area, both time he told us to vacate the place and go to  Walachchena fishing port area. We cannot run our boats from Walachchena, because people in the area operate bigger boats and our small boats need to be landed, there is no landing place in Walachchena.  we need a suitable  permeant place from the same beach where we doing our jobs for generations",  Christi Coore from Pasikuda (East coast of Sri Lanka, South to Trincomalee) told in a media conference held in Colombo on 11.July 2016.

Conference organised by Ministry of tourism and tourism promotion bureau held in Pasikuda from 11 to 14 July with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) with the theme of "Tourism, A catalyst for Development, Peace and Reconciliation. The conference is being held as a main component of the golden Jubilee celebration of the Sri Lanka's tourism industry, which started in 1966.  

The media conference was organised by Peoples Alliance for Right to Land (PARL) which includes   Prajaabhilasha network  and National Fisheries Solidarity Movement to call for the UNWTO to stand against community displacing tourism in the country. 

Pannel was consists of representatives from several communities who are direct victims of tourism industry development process after the war ended in 2009. 

 Mr. Sunil JAyasingha from Irudeniyaya reviled that a plan of the previous government still in the play and they are going build a elephant crossing from jungle to Hakwatunawa reservoir to use as tourist attraction. Hundreds of elephant living in near jungle will invade the farm lands later stage as there are not enough foods for them around the reservoir. Around 36 villages will be in danger with the wild elephants as no any boundary for wild animals. He asked authorities to stop this plan and conduct a development process which will sustainable for the human as well as to environment and animals. 

Mr. P. Somasiri from Panama as well as Mrs. Saleema from Kalpitiya also reviled their experiences with the tourism development process. 

tourism has affected to fisher communities throughout the coastal belt as well as it has displaced hundreds of people as government has grabbed their lands unlawfully.   

All participants urge the government to respect people's right to land over investor needs and asked the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to not overlook the adverse effects of community- displacing tourism in Sri Lanka and be an advocate for ethnical and people-friendly tourism. 
















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