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Initiative to create awareness of the opportunities in the hospitality sector- December 2017

The hospitality industry, is a significant contributor to the annual GDP of Sri Lanka with increased contributions year on year to the economy. It has tremendous potential to develop further in the near future and is expected to make a substantial contribution to Sri Lanka’s economy.

In order to tap this potential there are many aspects in the industry which require to be addressed. Development of human resource both at skilled and unskilled level and to increase the percentage of female employment is in the forefront of these challenges. The ever increasing room inventory in terms of supply across the island nation, will require staff in greater numbers.

For this we find that the people of the country including the youth must have an in depth knowledge of the tourism industry and the hotel industry. We find this to be the deterrent for young girls and boys to seek employment in the hotel sector.

To begin by spreading awareness with regards to the nature and character of the hospitality sector and to explain the availability of employment opportunities for the youth of today and tomorrow, a meeting was held on the 5th of December, 2017, at the Ministry of Education, where THASL was invited for a presentation .The Hotels Association of Sri Lanka (THASL) is the apex body of the hotel sector in the island.

The speakers of this meeting were veterans of the hotel industry, counting over 30 years of experience, who have dedicated decades of commitment into furthering the development of the hospitality sector. Mr Sanath Ukwatte, the President of the Hotels Association of Sri Lanka, and Chairman of the Mount Lavinia Hotel Group, Mr Anura Lokuhetty, Chairman of Red Apple Travels & Holidays Lanka Pvt Ltd, Mr Nirmo Thambapillai, the General Manager of the Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya and Mr Amal Nanayakkara were chosen to represent THASL at the event to an audience of Deputy Principals and senior academics from across the country.

They spoke on the following areas:

• The macro perspective on global tourism. An overview of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry in terms of arrivals, markets, growth post return of peace etc etc. An introduction into the hospitality or hotel industry, it’s growth trends, entry of International hotel brands, number of rooms across the country, formal and informal sector,key touristic locations etc …

• More importantly stressing the availability of job opportunities in the hospitality sector, both at skilled and unskilled level, employment opportunities at different qualification levels starting from students with or without O/L going up to jobs that require higher qualifications. The numerous benefits that can be gained by being a part of the hospitality industry was also touched upon. Another was the career growth opportunities within the industry.

• THASL addressed a negative perception of knowledge of English being mandatory to join a hotel and stressed on some of the hotel groups having free basic English classes for its employees together with on the job training and development opportunities in hotels to enhance confidence levels and improve efficiency.

• One of the speakers stressed the importance of experience in the hotel sector where there exists easy overseas employability in any country.

• Informative description into the ethics and standards maintained in the Hospitality industry, specifically highlighting the existing policies made to ensure a woman’s safety was another area of discussion.

• Opportunities to obtain basic Diploma qualifications in the hotel sector via Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management and its satellite schools which guarantees employment.

THASL will continue its efforts to increase awareness on the opportunities that exist within the hospitality sector and will support any initiative to improve the training and development aspect of the tourism industry in the island nation.

Background profiles of the speakers

Images taken at the event, posted below.

Mr Sanath Ukwatte, President of THASL, speaking at the Ministry of Education on the macro perspective of Tourism

Mr Sanath Ukwatte, President of THASL, addressing Deputy Principals from across the island

Mr Nirmo Thambapillai, General Manager Hill Club, Nuwara Eliya, addresses the audience

Mr Anura Lokuhetty, Chairman of Red Apple Travels & Holidays Lanka, addresses the audience at the meeting

Mr. Sunil Hettiarachi, Secretary of the Ministry of Education addresses the audience at the meeting (1)

The Deputy Principals and High Academics from schools across the country at the meeting

Mrs C.M.P.J Thilakaratne- Director of Education addresses the audience at the meeting

The Deputy Principals and High Academics from schools across the country at the meeting

The Deputy Principals and High Academics from schools across the country at the meeting