Tourism will be the leading industry in Sri Lanka due to the rapid increase in the number of tourist arrivals said Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa at the Graduation ceremony of the Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management (SLITHM) in Colombo on Tuesday.
Dr. Godahewa said unlike certain industries, tourism does not depend on foreign assistance for its sustenance. Nature has gifted a salubrious climate, plush landscape and bio-diversity to attract a large number of visitors to the country annually.
“The unmatched service standards offered to visitors make the destination more attractive and a country that should be visited.
The tourism industry needs more trained personnel in hotels to retain the reputation of the leisure sector”, he said.
Tourism is the fourth major foreign exchange earner in the country and the largest employer on the globe. The number of people employed in the tourism sector across the globe exceed 3.5 million. SLITHM presented awards to 108 graduates and diploma holders at its 32nd Graduation Ceremony. Many of the awardees had gained employment in leading hotels in the country and overseas.
Dr. Godahewa said the tourism industry has revived and the demand for qualified hoteliers is high. Graduands should continue to study, be experimental and innovative at their workplaces.
Managing Director, Aitken Spence Hotels, Malin Hapugoda said that the tourism industry needs around 18,000 hotel rooms in addition to the current number of rooms to cater to the tourist arrival target of 2.5 million by 2016.”There will be a dearth of qualified hoteliers in three to four years and there is a need to have more professionals in the leisure industry”, he said.
Director General SLITHM, Dr. Suranga Silva said steps have been taken to affiliate more institutions into the training program and conduct courses in foreign universities. “Sri Lanka is in the midst of becoming a knowledge hub in the region. The labour force of our country represents the educated manpower in South Asia and therefore Sri Lanka is not far from becoming the wonder of Asia”, he said.