Sri Lanka has been offered the opportunity to host the 10th ICAN conference in Colombo from 4 to 8 December.
ICAN is the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Conference on Air Services Negotiation and is the premier annual international conference organised by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), bringing together delegations from all corners of the world to one single meeting place for negotiation of air service agreements aiming at either updating existing traffic rights or creating new arrangements for market access among the ICAO member states.
More than 75 states are expected to assemble in Sri Lanka for ‘shopping’ of their market accessibility requirements for improved air transport connectivity between states. The 75 states expected to attend this conference will bring in around 500 delegates.
The Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka will be spearheading the conference hosting in Sri Lanka, in conjunction with all other State organisations involved in travel and tourism. Under the advice and guidance of Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Nimal Siripala De Silva, Ministry of Civil Aviation Secretary G.S. Withanage, Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka Chairman Ananda Wimalasena and Civil Aviation Director General/CEO H.M.C. Nimalsiri have taken all necessary steps to host this conference successfully in Sri Lanka.
Significant contributions have been made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Airport & Aviation Services (Sri Lanka) Ltd., SriLankan Airlines and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau for the success of hosting this conference. Other contributors have been Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Sri Lanka Tea Board and the National Gem & Jewellery Authority and Aitken Spence Travels.
This conference has been previously hosted by the world’s tourism hotspots such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, Antalya, Bali and Durban, mainly due to the inherent promotional tourism value to the host state.
Plenary sessions during the inaugural session of the conference always concentrate on the importance of combining aviation and tourism for economic growth of the states and the need to remove barriers for travel. By sponsoring the event, the host states attempt to obtain the maximum advantage by promoting the internal tourism industry to the states’ delegations which comprise a mixed representatives of transport authorities, civil aviation regulators, diplomats, legislators, and airlines and airports of the respective countries.
Since the majority of officials involved in these discussions are market opportunity seekers, connectivity builders and influential frequent travellers who interact with many others in their day-to-day official affairs, they would serve as excellent ambassadors for tourism promotional activities of the host State, Sri Lanka.
The only previous occasion it has been hosted in South Asia was in Mumbai in 2011, where the conference venue was the iconic Taj Hotel. It is the policy of ICAO to shift the venue of this conference from one continent to the other and a similar conference may not take place in the Asia and Pacific Region again within the next few years.
The opening ceremony of ICAN will be at the BMICH today, 4 December, and thereafter negotiations between respective states will take place at the Colombo Hilton until 8 December, as per their mutual arrangements made in coordination with ICAO, the Conference Organiser.
The opening ceremony will be held under the auspices of Minister De Silva as the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour will be Minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs John Amaratunga while Minister of Public Enterprise Development Kabir Hashim will attend as a special guest along with top ICAO officials.
A special feature will be the celebration of International Civil Aviation Day on 7 December in the midst of all aviation professionals representing the states.
The hosting of the 10th ICAN Conference will provide Sri Lanka an excellent opportunity to promote its aviation, tourism and facilities to the cream of the international aviation professionals. Sri Lanka will also be featured and highlighted among the 192 ICAO States because of ICAN2017 through ICAO’s promotional activities.
The conference will also provide Sri Lanka the opportunity to meet nearly 30 states with a view of liberalising air services arrangements and expanding the existing provisions. It’s a cost effective way of meeting these states over a five-day period as meeting them on a one-to-one basis in their home states will be time consuming and costly.
Negotiations such as these help to liberalise air services which in turn has a ripple effect on the Sri Lankan economy, resulting in better employment opportunities, better connectivity to Sri Lanka and the possibility of reduction of fares in the long run.